Wel·​ler·​ism | \ ˈwe-lə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce Wellerism (audio) \

Definition of Wellerism

: an expression of comparison comprising a usually well-known quotation followed by a facetious sequel (such as "'every one to his own taste,' said the old woman as she kissed the cow")

Did You Know?

Sam Weller, Mr. Pickwick's good-natured servant in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick PapersK, and his father were fond of following well-known sayings or phrases with humorous or punning conclusions. For example, in one incident in the book, Sam quips, "What the devil do you want with me, as the man said, w[h]en he see the ghost?" Neither Charles Dickens nor Sam Weller invented that type of word play, but Weller's tendency to use such witticisms had provoked people to start calling them "Wellerisms" by 1839, soon after the publication of the novel.

First Known Use of Wellerism

1838, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Wellerism

Sam Weller, witty servant of Mr. Pickwick in the story Pickwick Papers (1836–37) by Charles Dickens

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about Wellerism

Time Traveler for Wellerism

Time Traveler

The first known use of Wellerism was in 1838

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about Wellerism

Statistics for Wellerism

Cite this Entry

“Wellerism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Wellerism. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Comments on Wellerism

What made you want to look up Wellerism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!