A ‘Tom Swifty’ is a play on words. It usually starts with a quotation, followed by an adverb that describes how Tom was speaking.
The term was coined by Willard Espy (1911–99). It is a parody on the style of writing in a series of adventure books published by Edward Stratemeyer and written by an imaginary author, Victor Appleton. Tom Swift was the main character in the books.
“Don’t you love sleeping outdoors,” Tom said intently.
“Get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly.
“How do I get to the cemetery?” Tom asked gravely.
“I can’t find the oranges,” said Tom fruitlessly.
“I decided to come back to the group,” Tom rejoined.
“I’d like my money back, and some,” said Tom with interest.
“I don’t like hot dogs,” Tom said frankly.
“I forgot what I was supposed to buy,” Tom said listlessly.
“I have no flowers,” Tom said lackadaisically.
“I just dropped the toothpaste,” said Tom crestfallenly.
“I’ll have a bowl of Chinese soup,” Tom said wantonly.
“I’ll have another martini,” said Tom dryly.
“I’ll have the lamb,” Tom said sheepishly.
“I lost my trousers,” said Tom expansively.
“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish.
“I need a pencil sharpener,” Tom said bluntly.
“I’m no good at playing darts,” Tom said aimlessly.
“I only have diamonds, clubs, and spades,’ Tom said heartlessly.
“I’ve removed all the feathers from this chicken,” said Tom pluckily.
“I won the daily double,” Tom said hoarsely.
“Let’s gather up the rope,” said Tom coyly.
“Look at those newborn puppies,” said Tom literally.
“My girlfriend broke up with me,” Tom said ruthlessly.
“Parsley, sage, rosemary,” said Tom timelessly.
“Pass me another chip” said Tom crisply.
“That’s a lot of hay,” Tom said balefully.
“That’s the last time I’ll pet a lion,” Tom said offhandedly.
“That’s the third time my teacher changed my grade,” Tom remarked.
“The thermostat is set too high,” said Tom heatedly.
“We just struck oil!” Tom gushed.
“You’re only average,” Tom said meanly.
Can you make up your own Tom Swifty? Were there any here that you didn’t get?