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A fumblerule is a rule of language or linguistic style, humorously written in such a way that it breaks this rule.[1] Fumblerules are a form of self-reference.

The science editor George L. Trigg published a list of such rules in 1979.[2] The term fumblerules was coined in a list of such rules compiled by William Safire on Sunday, 4 November 1979,[3][4] in his column "On Language" in the New York Times. Safire later authored a book titled Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage, which was reprinted in 2005 as How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dennis Joseph Enright (1983). A Mania for Sentences. Chatto & Windus/Hogarth Press.
  2. ^ Physical Review Letters 42 (12), pp. 747–748 (19 March 1979)
  3. ^ alt.usage.english.org's Humorous Rules for Writing
  4. ^ Safire, William (1979-11-04). "On Language; The Fumblerules of Grammar". New York Times. p. SM4.

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