Contents ListIntroduction-Definition-Examples-Typology-[8]Usage-Reference-Know more-
History of the Word-
The date of the earliest citation of pun given in the first edition of the OED is 1669. Now a 1644 example is known. The word seems to have emerged some time around 1640. This date tallies with the fact that Abraham Cowley’s comedy The Guardian (acted 1641) has a character Mr. Puny described as “a young Gallant, a pretender to Wit.” In the revised version of the play (1661), the adjective Punish occurs, with reference to that gentleman’s kind of wit. Cowley does not use the word pun, and we do not know how the name and the adjective were pronounced. On paper, Puny and Punish look like puny “tiny” and the verb punish respectively. Both must have had punning connotations. Names of this type were popular in Cowley’s days. For instance, Goldsmith and Sheridan have Mr. Slang (unfortunately, no lines are assigned to him) and Mr. Fag (fag “servant”). 18th-century dictionaries feature pun, which they define as quibble, witty conceit, fancy, and clench. “Play on words” was also mentioned regularly, but the original connotation of pun seems to have been “an over-subtle distinction” (this is what clench, a side-form of clinch means), rather than what we today understand by it. [1]
Current overview of the Word-
There are an infinite number of concepts to describe in the world, but there are a very limited number of sounds. And so to use a limited number of sounds to describe an infinite number of ideas, there is bound to be phonetic overlap. Punning, therefore, is almost inevitable.
By John Pollack[2]
Pun as a kind of wordplay has been accepted and used through a long history. From the praise made by Aristotle to Ciecro and the use by Shakespeare to Sir Francis Drake, it could be justifiably come to the conclusion that pun, as a form of wisdom use of words, had already been very popular in the ancient time. In modern society, it is also popular and used in various fields such as in business, in advertisings, daily discourses, and formal writings, speeches. Since the use of pun is an indirectly implication of one’s thought of humor, hatred, and for an rhetorical effect , it is always considered to be smart and humorous in both western and eastern culture. It sometimes requires an abundant of vocabulary, knowledge and culture to understand. It would be quite difficult for a foreigner outside one culture to understand pun jokes or words in one culture.
l Pun’s current uses-
  1. In Movies-

Note: Picture 1: Nun (None) Of That Picture 2: Sister Act (n/v)
2. In Daily Discourse-
I was arrested at the airport. Just because I was greeting my cousin Jack! All that I said was "Hi Jack", but very loud.
(Hijack is a verb, which means “rob the airplane”)
Submitted by Carcelli's family[3]
3. In Formal writing or speeches-
You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless of course , you play bass.
-douglas adams
The phrase uses the homophonic qualities of "tune a" and "tuna", as well as the homographic pun on "bass", in which ambiguity is reached through the identical spellings but different pronunciation of "bass": /'be?s/ (a string instrument), and /'bæs/ (a kind of fish).


Pun-is a clever or humorous play on words. Its effect is a function of multiple meaning.


Relating Definitions-
l Paronomasia-is the use of words that sound similar to other words, but have different meanings.[5]
l Wordplay- is a clever and funny use of a word.[6]
l Joke- is something you say or do that is intended to make people laugh; something that is funny; to say things that are intended to make people laugh.[6]

²“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle, “nine the next, and so on.”"What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.“That's the reason they're called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.[7]
²"We must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately."
By Benjamin Franklin
Homographic Puns-
Homographic or antanaclasis puns play on the multiple meanings one word may have. This is one of the more common form of puns. For example, 'My girlfriend criticised my apartment, so I knocked her flat'. In the preceding example, the pun was created by alluding to the fact the word flat could have meant an apartment, or alluded to the girlfriend being knocked flat on her back.
Homophonic Puns-
Homophonic or polyptoton puns play on words that sound alike, but are spelled differently, and mean different things. For example, 'Seven days without laughter makes one weak'.
Double-sound Puns-
Double-sound puns refer to a word sounding similar to another word, however not identical to the sound of a word, such as homographic puns. A music teacher not at home may leave a note on their door saying, 'Gone Chopin, Bach in a Minuet'.
Ambigrams are a word or words that can be read in more than one way or from more than a single vantage point, such as both right side up and upside down. (From Latin: ambi meaning both and gram meaning letter.) Ambigrams are purely a visual play on words, but for they are included in this article for the sake of being thorough.
Palindromes are spelled the same, backwards or forwards, such as 'mom', 'race car', or 'deified'. Entire phrases can be palindromes. Punctuation does not prevent a sentence or phrase from being considered a palindrome, eg, 'Dogma: I am God.' counts as a palindrome. Here are some more examples:
² A Santa pets rats, as Pat taps a star step at NASA.
² Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.
² Deirdre wets altar of St. Simon's; no mists, for at last ewer dried.
² E. Borgnine drags Dad's gardening robe.
² Ed, I saw Harpo Marx ram Oprah W. aside.
² Embargos are macabre. Sad Nell, listen O! not to no nets - I'll lend a Serb a camera, so grab me!
² Golf? No sir, prefer prison-flog.
Scarily enough, here's a 306-word palindrome, which begs the question, just how much spare time do some people have?.
Tom Swift-
Tom Swifty puns play on a relationship between an adverb, and an action spoken in dialogue. The original Tom Swift was a fictional title character in a series of children's books written by Edward L Stratemeyer (1862-1930). Tom Swifty puns satirize the writing of these books, and their simple 'Tom said, Tom did, Tom said' writing.
² 'I've lost my trousers,' Tom said expansively.
² 'I've returned from the lobotomy,' Tom said absentmindedly.
² 'Let's dig up the bodies,' Tom said gravely.
² 'I don't like hot dogs,' Tom said frankly.
² 'No, you can't have any of my oysters,' said Tom shellfishly.
² 'I'd love some Chinese food,' said Tom wantonly.
² 'I want to date around,' said Tom unsteadily.
² 'Take the prisoner downstairs,' Tom said condescendingly.
² 'Drop the gun,' Tom said with a disarming smile.
² 'I lost my hair,' Tom bawled.
² 'I returned from Japan,' Tom said disorientedly.
² 'Is this sodomy?' Tom asked, half in Ernest.
Spoonerisms are a result of changing around, especially accidentally, the initial sounds of two or more words when speaking, eg, 'well-boiled icicle' for well-oiled bicycle. Others include 'sky as a height', 'nark staked', and 'dain brammage'.
Oxymorons are rhetorical figures in which an epigrammatic effect is created by the conjunction of incongruous or contradictory terms. Basically, they are a working contradiction (which is an oxymoron unto itself). Some oxymorons are obvious, being simple opposites, eg, 'jumbo shrimp'. However, many other oxymorons are subjective to opinion: 'military intelligence' or 'Microsoft Works'. Other examples include: 'minor miracle', 'clearly confused', 'safe sex', 'original copies', 'found missing' and 'friendly fire'.
Anagrams have always had a reputation as difficult, but they do constitute as word play. Anagrams are words, or phrases formed from rearranging the letters of other words and phrases. What kind of mind is it that can notice that 'two plus eleven' and 'one plus twelve' not only give the same result but use the same letters? Some notable anagrams include:
² Western Union = no wire unsent
² Circumstantial evidence = can ruin a selected victim
² A stitch in time saves nine = this is meant as incentive
² Funeral = real fun
² The Morse Code = Here come dots
² Victoria, England's Queen = governs a nice quiet land
² Intoxicate = excitation
² Schoolmaster = the classroom
² Mother-in-law = woman Hitler
² Ronald Wilson Reagan = Insane Anglo Warlord
Pangrams are a special form of poetry that include every letter of the alphabet, with as little repetition as possible: Mr Jock, TV Quiz PhD, bags few lynx.
Chiasmus is a figure of speech, where wit is conveyed through the reversal of words or phrases in clauses. Often used in verse, it becomes a poem of parallels. The word comes from the Greek letter Chi, which looks like an X. Most chiasmus follow an ABBA method, where word or phrase A is used in the a clause, then B, then B again, and finally A. A good example of this would be, 'Never let a fool kiss you, or a kiss fool you'. Some chiasmus can become lengthy to the point they are not obvious in their symmetry.
Tongue Twisters-
Tongue Twisters are an audible play on words, where the intent is rarely to convey an unexpected message, rather more often than not to trip up the reader who attempts to speak the twister. Often they are repeated rapidly several times. They are both amusing and frustrating at the same time. Much of Dr Seuss's work can be considered Tongue Twisters, but especially his book Fox in Sox which is one continuing Tongue Twister:
² Once upon a barren moor There dwelt a bear, also a boar, The bear could not bear the boar, The bear thought the boar was a bore. At last the bear could bear no more That boar that bored him on the moor. And so one morn he bored the boar- That boar will bore no more!
² I am a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant-plucker's son, I will be plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.
Portmanteau words are words that are formed by telescoping two other words in on themselves. Such as bit (binary unit), avionics (aviation electronics), and motel (motor hotel).
Portmanteau is itself a portmanteau word, originating from the French portemanteau, a compound formed from porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak). While technically, they play on words, they are rare and there will be little detail on them in this entry.
Redefinition Wordplay-
One does not need to play on the pronunciation, or spelling of a pun at all. Sometimes, a clever redefinition of a word can be considered a pun. These are sometimes referred to as //Daffynitions//. For example, 'Flashlight: a carrying case for dead batteries' or 'Shin: a device for finding tables in the dark' and finally, 'Professor: one who talks in someone else's sleep'. The definition was unexpected, and humorous. It played upon connotation rather than actual meaning of the word. Sometimes words that sound like groups of other words can be cleverly redefined as well.
² Alarms: what an octopus is.
² Crick: the sound that a Japanese camera makes.
² Dockyard: a physician's garden.
² Incongruous: where bills are passed.
² Khakis: what you need to start the car in Boston.
² Oboe: an English tramp.
² Pasteurise: too fast to see.
² Propaganda: a gentlemanly goose.
² Toboggan: why we go to an auction.
Also, there are extended puns. Much in the same manner as metaphors, a pun can be carried out even after the pun is realised. These puns are seen as the least humorous, but can be both challenging and fun.
Dangling by a thread, some questioned whether or not the tattered and frayed prosecution could patch up their case so close to clothesing arguments. But when pressed, the material witness in the suit came apart at the seams. 'Do not pull the wool over my eyes! Sew, it was you!' The tailor's lawyer had cotton on to her tapestry, woven together by lies, coated in tails. Some of us were on pins and needles, and one loony onlooker was in stitches. Leather or not the jury was suede was left to be steamed.


Puns are used in many fields with different purposes. In people’s daily life, puns are widely used to make jokes or to intend humor. In literatures, puns can be used to evoke audiences’ sympathetic responses or to give multiple meanings which can make the author himself sounds very smart. In designations, punning is the best choice to gain attention and more easier for people to bear the name in mind.

In daily life-

In everyday life, puns are popular. The usage of pun in daily life is being classified as a source of fun more often. People use puns to indicate deeper meanings of a words or sentences and sometimes to show their sense of humor and wisdoms.

The famous Knock Knock Jokes are one typical kind of daily life jokes which includes the use of puns. For example:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Doris who?

Doris locked that’s why I am knocking.

In literature-

Non-humorous puns were and are a standard rhetorical and poetic device in English literature. Puns and other forms of word play have been used by many famous writers, such as Alexander Pope, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Robert Bloch, Lewis Carroll, John Donne, and William Shakespeare, who is estimated to have used over 3,000 puns in his plays.[9]

There are several examples to signify the usage of puns in literature. Shakespeare is a typical prolific pundit of puns. There is a famous pun uttered by Mercutio as he is dying in his Romeo and Juliet: “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”

In designation-

With the free flow of information and the advanced communication hi-techs, people have more accesses to be exposed to greater amount of messages. Thus, having an eyeball catching name or a piece of advertisement is very important in the business sector in modern society. And this is the reason why lots of corporations, places, organizations, characters and advertisements are using puns.


²Frank Einstein, Madman.


This is a famous cartoon character, here Frank Einstein is using the last name of one of the greatest scientists of mankind Albert Einstein to indicates its intelligence or madness anyway?
²Bean Me Up Espresso, a coffee shop in Spokane, Washington.

²Aging is history, from a cosmetics company.



[2] John Pollack ,a former presidential speechwriter and the winner of the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off




[6] Macmilian English-Chinese Dictionary

[7] Alice’s Adventure in Wonderlands, by Lewis Carroll



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