This is excerpted from the author Max Beerbohm's essay Going Out for a Walk:

It is a fact that not once in all my life have I gone out for a walk. I have been taken out for walks; but that is another matter. Even while I trotted prattling by my nurse’s side I regretted the good old days when I had, and wasn’t, a perambulator.

I looked up the word perambulator in the dictionary(American Heritage and Oxford), and found it means a pram, a baby carriage. And I also looked up perambulate, and it means walk or travel around. So I wonder if the last sentence I had, and wasn't, a perambulator is a pun: the author had a pram but he wasn't a great walker when he was a baby. Otherwise it would be weird to me that the author said he wasn't a baby carriage. Am I right about this?


I find this review(please click if you are interested) of 'Going Out for a Walk' on the internet.

And it says:

Beerbohm begins by stating that he is an inveterate opponent of the habit of walking. Even when he was a toddler, he used to regret the good old days when he was an infant. He didn’t have to walk then, since he had a perambulator. He wasn’t a pram and so nobody would ever forcefully take him out for a walk.

The reviewer thinks Beerbohm compared himself to a pram(perambulator), i.e. Beerbohm didn't have to be pushed around like a pram. So pram is understood as a metaphor.

Then I am confused. What does the author really mean by saying 'I wasn't a perambulator?

Does he mean:

1) when he was a baby, he was not someone who perambulates?


2) when he was a baby, he didn't have to be forcefully taken out for a walk like people did with a pram?

2 Answers 2


This is a zeugma: "I had" refers to the meaning of "perambulator" as a baby carriage (from which te word "pram" is derived"). "I was" refers to its meaning of "someone who walks".


I'm not sure if it's technically a pun or just some wordplay, but you are definitely interpreting it correctly, yes.

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