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A pun, also known as paronomasia, is a form of
word play Word play or wordplay (also: play-on-words) is a literary technique and a form of wit in which words used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement. Examples of word play include puns, phonet ...
that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended
humor Humour ( Commonwealth English) or humor (American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Engli ...
ous or
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
al effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic,
homograph A homograph (from the el, ὁμός, ''homós'', "same" and γράφω, ''gráphō'', "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also ...
ic,
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech in which a concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept. Etymology The words ''metonymy'' and ''metonym'' come from grc, μετωνυμία, 'a change of name' ...
ic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a
malapropism A malapropism (also called a malaprop, acyrologia, or Dogberryism) is the mistaken use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance. An example is the statement attributed to ...
in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple (correct or fairly reasonable) interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or
idiom An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a Literal and figurative language, figurative, non-literal meaning (linguistic), meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meani ...
atic constructions, especially as their usage and meaning are usually specific to a particular language or its culture. Puns have a long history in human writing. For example, the Roman playwright
Plautus Titus Maccius Plautus (; c. 254 – 184 BC), commonly known as Plautus, was a Ancient Rome, Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedy, comedies are the earliest Latin literature, Latin literary works to have survived in their entiret ...
was famous for his puns and word games.


Types of puns


Homophonic

A homophonic pun is one that uses word pairs which sound alike ( homophones) but are not synonymous. Walter Redfern summarized this type with his statement, "To pun is to treat homonyms as
synonyms A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, morpheme, or phrase in a given language. For example, in the English language, the words ''begin'', ''start'', ''commence'', and ''initiate'' are all ...
." For example, in
George Carlin George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American comedian, actor, author, and social critic. Regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time, he was dubbed "the dean of countercul ...
's phrase "atheism is a non-prophet institution", the word ''
prophet In religion, a prophet or prophetess is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divinity, divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings f ...
'' is put in place of its homophone '' profit'', altering the common phrase " non-profit institution". Similarly, the joke "Question: Why do we still have troops in Germany? Answer: To keep the
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = , population = , popplace = 118 million Russians in the Russian Federation (2002 ''Winkler Prins'' estimate) , region1 = , pop1 ...
in Czech" relies on the aural ambiguity of the homophones '' check'' and '' Czech''. Often, puns are not strictly homophonic, but play on words of similar, not identical, sound as in the example from the '' Pinky and the Brain'' cartoon film series: "I think so, Brain, but if we give peas a chance, won't the lima beans feel left out?" which plays with the similar—but not identical—sound of ''peas'' and ''peace'' in the anti-war slogan " Give Peace a Chance".


Homographic

A ''homographic'' pun exploits words which are spelled the same (
homograph A homograph (from the el, ὁμός, ''homós'', "same" and γράφω, ''gráphō'', "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also ...
s) but possess different meanings and sounds. Because of their origin, they rely on sight more than hearing, contrary to homophonic puns. They are also known as ''heteronymic puns''. Examples in which the punned words typically exist in two different
parts of speech In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (Abbreviation, abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammar, grammatical properti ...
often rely on unusual sentence construction, as in the anecdote: "When asked to explain his large number of children, the pig answered simply: 'The wild oats of my sow gave us many piglets.'" An example that combines homophonic and homographic punning is
Douglas Adams Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author and screenwriter, best known for ''The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy''. Originally a 1978 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio series), BBC radio comedy, ''The H ...
's line "You can tune a guitar, but you can't
tuna A tuna is a saltwater fish that belongs to the Tribe (biology), tribe Thunnini, a subgrouping of the Scombridae (mackerel) family. The Thunnini comprise 15 species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet ...
fish. Unless of course, you play bass." The phrase uses the homophonic qualities of ''tune a'' and ''
tuna A tuna is a saltwater fish that belongs to the Tribe (biology), tribe Thunnini, a subgrouping of the Scombridae (mackerel) family. The Thunnini comprise 15 species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet ...
'', as well as the homographic pun on ''bass'', in which ambiguity is reached through the identical spellings of (a
string instrument String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner. Musicians play some string instruments by plucking the ...
), and (a kind of fish). Homographic puns do not necessarily need to follow grammatical rules and often do not make sense when interpreted outside the context of the pun.


Homonymic

''Homonymic'' puns, another common type, arise from the exploitation of words which are both homographs and homophones. The statement "Being in
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
is just like playing
golf Golf is a club-and-ball sport in which players use various Golf club, clubs to hit Golf ball, balls into a series of holes on a golf course, course in as few strokes as possible. Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not use a standar ...
: you are trapped in one bad lie after another" puns on the two meanings of the word ''lie'' as "a deliberate untruth" and as "the position in which something rests". An adaptation of a joke repeated by
Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov ( ; 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. During his lifetime, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and ...
gives us "Did you hear about the little moron who strained himself while running into the screen door?" playing on ''strained'' as "to give much effort" and "to filter". A homonymic pun may also be polysemic, in which the words must be homonymic and also possess related meanings, a condition that is often subjective. However, lexicographers define polysemes as listed under a single dictionary lemma (a unique numbered meaning) while homonyms are treated in separate lemmata.


Compounded

A compound pun is a statement that contains two or more puns. In this case, the wordplay cannot go into effect by utilizing the separate words or phrases of the puns that make up the entire statement. For example, a complex statement by Richard Whately includes four puns: "Why can a man never starve in the Great Desert? Because he can eat the sand which is there. But what brought the sandwiches there? Why,
Noah Noah ''Nukh''; am, ኖህ, ''Noḥ''; ar, نُوح '; grc, Νῶε ''Nôe'' () is the tenth and last of the pre-Flood patriarchs in the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions are a group of religions centered aroun ...
sent Ham, and his descendants mustered and bred." This pun uses ''sand which is there/sandwiches there'', ''
Ham Ham is pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of the Pig, domestic pig (''Sus domesticus''). It is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, with evidence of pig animal husbandry, husbandry dating back to 5000 BCE. Pork is ...
/ham'', ''mustered/mustard'', and ''bred/bread''. Similarly, the phrase "piano is not my forte" links two meanings of the words ''forte'' and ''piano'', one for the dynamic markings in music and the second for the literal meaning of the sentence, as well as alluding to "pianoforte", the older name of the instrument. Compound puns may also combine two phrases that share a word. For example, "Where do
mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in their work, typically to solve mathematical problems. Mathematicians are concerned with numbers, data, quantity, mathematical structure, structure, space, Mathematica ...
s go on weekends? To a Möbius strip club!" puns on the terms '' Möbius strip'' and ''
strip club A strip club is a venue where strippers provide adult entertainment, predominantly in the form of striptease or other Erotic dancing, erotic or exotic dances. Strip clubs typically adopt a nightclub or Bar (establishment), bar style, and can also ...
''.


Recursive

A recursive pun is one in which the second aspect of a pun relies on the understanding of an element in the first. For example, the statement " π is only half a pie." (π
radian The radian, denoted by the symbol rad, is the unit of angle in the International System of Units (SI) and is the standard unit of angular measure used in many areas of mathematics. The unit was formerly an SI supplementary unit (before that c ...
s is 180 degrees, or half a circle, and a pie is a complete circle). Another example is "
Infinity Infinity is that which is boundless, endless, or larger than any natural number. It is often denoted by the infinity symbol . Since the time of the Greek mathematics, ancient Greeks, the Infinity (philosophy), philosophical nature of infinit ...
is not in finity", which means infinity is not in finite range. Another example is "a Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother." The recursive pun "Immanuel doesn't pun, he
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemolo ...
", is attributed to
Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 185430 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is ...
.


Visual

Visual puns are sometimes used in logos, emblems, insignia, and other graphic symbols, in which one or more of the pun aspects is replaced by a picture. In European
heraldry Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, Imperial, royal and noble ranks, rank and genealo ...
, this technique is called canting arms. Visual and other puns and word games are also common in Dutch gable stones as well as in some
cartoon A cartoon is a type of visual art that is typically drawn, frequently animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to either: an image or series of image ...
s, such as '' Lost Consonants'' and ''
The Far Side ''The Far Side'' is a single-panel comic strip, comic created by Gary Larson and print syndication, syndicated by Chronicle Features and then Universal Press Syndicate, which ran from December 31, 1979, to January 1, 1995 (when Larson retired a ...
''. Another type of visual pun exists in languages which use non-phonetic writing. For example, in Chinese, a pun may be based on a similarity in shape of the written character, despite a complete lack of phonetic similarity in the words punned upon.
Mark Elvin John Mark Dutton Elvin (born 1938) is a professor emeritus of Chinese history at Australian National University, specializing in the late imperial period; he is also emeritus fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. Early life Elvin, the only ch ...
describes how this "peculiarly Chinese form of visual punning involved comparing written characters to objects." Visual puns on the bearer's name are used extensively as forms of heraldic expression, they are called canting arms. They have been used for centuries across Europe and have even been used recently by members of the British royal family, such as on the arms of
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002) was List of British royal consorts, Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 to 6 February 1952 as the wife of Ki ...
and of Princess Beatrice of York. The arms of U.S. Presidents
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or by his initials, T. R., was an American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26t ...
and
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (born David Dwight Eisenhower; ; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, ...
are also
canting ' (International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA: , Van Ophuijsen Spelling System, VOS Spelling: ''tjanting'', jv, ꦕꦤ꧀ꦛꦶꦁ, Tjanting) is a pen-like tool used to apply liquid hot wax ( jv, ) in the batik-making process in Indonesia, more pre ...
. In the context of non-phonetic texts, 4 Pics 1 Word, is an example of visual paronomasia where the players are supposed to identify the word in common from the set of four images.


Other

Richard J. Alexander notes two additional forms which puns may take: graphological (sometimes called visual) puns, such as concrete poetry; and morphological puns, such as
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordscomedy shows. They are often used in the punch line of a joke, where they typically give a humorous meaning to a rather perplexing story. These are also known as feghoots. The following example comes from the movie '' Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'', though the punchline stems from far older
Vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a theatre, theatrical genre of variety show, variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: ...
roots. The final line puns on the stock phrase " the lesser of two evils". After Aubrey offers his pun (to the enjoyment of many), Dr. Maturin shows a disdain for the craft with his reply, "One who would pun would pick-a-pocket." Not infrequently, puns are used in the titles of comedic parodies. A parody of a popular song, movie, etc., may be given a title that hints at the title of the work being parodied, replacing some of the words with ones that sound or look similar. For example, collegiate a cappella groups are often named after musical puns to attract fans through attempts at humor. Such a title can immediately communicate both that what follows is a parody and also which work is about to be parodied, making any further "setup" (introductory explanation) unnecessary. 2014 saw the inaugural UK Pun Championships, at the Leicester Comedy Festival, hosted by Lee Nelson. Walsh went on to take part in the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships in
Austin, Texas Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas, as well as the county seat, seat and largest city of Travis County, Texas, Travis County, with portions extending into Hays County, Texas, Hays and Williamson County, Texas, Williamson co ...
. In 2015 the UK Pun Champion was Leo Kearse.


Books never written

Sometimes called "books never written" or "world's greatest books", these are jokes which consist of fictitious book titles with authors' names that contain a pun relating to the title. Perhaps the best-known example is: "''Tragedy on the Cliff'' by Eileen Dover", which according to one source was devised by humourist Peter DeVries. It is common for these puns to refer to taboo subject matter, such as "''What Boys Love'' by E. Norma Stitts".


Literature

Non-humorous puns were and are a standard poetic device in
English literature English literature is literature written in the English language from United Kingdom, its crown dependencies, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, and the countries of the former British Empire. ''The Encyclopaedia Britannica'' defines En ...
. Puns and other forms of wordplay have been used by many famous writers, such as
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 Old Style and New Style dates, O.S. – 30 May 1744) was an English poet, translator, and satirist of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment era who is considered one of the most prominent English poets of the earl ...
,
James Joyce James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, poet, and literary critic. He contributed to the Modernism, modernist avant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important ...
,
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Владимир Владимирович Набоков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin (), was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and Entomology, entomo ...
,
Robert Bloch Robert Albert Bloch (; April 5, 1917September 23, 1994) was an American fiction writer, primarily of crime fiction, crime, psychological horror fiction, horror and Fantasy Fiction, fantasy, much of which has been dramatized for radio, cinema a ...
,
Lewis Carroll Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (; 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, poet and mathematician. His most notable works are ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (1865) and its sequel ...
,
John Donne John Donne ( ; 22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a recusant family, who later became a clergy, cleric in the Church of England. Under royal patronage, he was made Dean of St Paul's ...
, and
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
. In the poem ''A Hymn to God the Father'',
John Donne John Donne ( ; 22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a recusant family, who later became a clergy, cleric in the Church of England. Under royal patronage, he was made Dean of St Paul's ...
, whose wife's name was Anne More, puns repeatedly: "Son/sun" in the second quoted line, and two compound puns on "Done/done" and "More/more". All three are homophonic, with the puns on "more" being both homographic and capitonymic. The ambiguities introduce several possible meanings into the verses.
Alfred Hitchcock Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English filmmaker. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of cinema. In a career spanning six decades, he directed over 50 featur ...
stated, "Puns are the highest form of literature."


Shakespeare

Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
is estimated to have used over 3,000 puns in his plays. Even though many of the puns were bawdy, Elizabethan literature considered puns and wordplay to be a "sign of literary refinement" more so than humor. This is evidenced by the deployment of puns in serious or "seemingly inappropriate" scenes, like when a dying Mercutio quips "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man" in ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about the romance between two Italian youths from feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetim ...
''. Shakespeare was also noted for his frequent play with less serious puns, the "quibbles" of the sort that made
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary criticism, critic, biographer, editor and lexicogra ...
complain, "A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller! He follows it to all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way, sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible." Elsewhere, Johnson disparagingly referred to punning as the lowest form of humour.


Rhetoric

Puns can function as a
rhetorical device In rhetoric, a rhetorical device, persuasive device, or stylistic device is a technique that an author or speaker uses to convey to the listener or reader a Meaning (linguistics), meaning with the goal of persuasion, persuading them towards consid ...
, where the pun serves as a persuasive instrument for an author or speaker. Although puns are sometimes perceived as trite or silly, if used responsibly a pun "can be an effective communication tool in a variety of situations and forms". A major difficulty in using puns in this manner is that the meaning of a pun can be interpreted very differently according to the audience's background with the possibility of detracting from the intended message.


Design

Like other forms of wordplay, paronomasia is occasionally used for its attention-getting or
mnemonic A mnemonic ( ) device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory for better understanding. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery ...
qualities, making it common in titles and the names of places, characters, and organizations, and in advertising and slogans. upright=0.9, The Tiecoon Tie shop, in Penn Station NY, an example of a pun in a shop name Many restaurant and shop names use puns: Cane & Able mobility healthcare, Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace, Tiecoon tie shop, Planet of the Grapes wine and spirits, Curl Up and Dye hair salon, as do books such as '' Pies and Prejudice'',
webcomics Webcomics (also known as online comics or Internet comics) are comics published on a website or mobile app. While many are published exclusively on the web, others are also published in magazines, newspapers, or comic books. Webcomics can be co ...
like ('' YU+ME: dream'') and feature films such as ('' Good Will Hunting''). The Japanese
anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation, computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Outside of Japan and in English, ''anime'' refers specifically to animation produced in Japan. However, in Japan and in Japane ...
'' Speed Racer's'' original Japanese title, ''Mach GoGoGo!'' refers to the English word itself, the Japanese word for five (the Mach Five's car number), and the name of the show's main character, Go Mifune. This is also an example of a multilingual pun, full understanding of which requires knowledge of more than one language on the part of the listener. Names of fictional characters also often carry puns, such as Satoshi's English name, Ash Ketchum and
Goku Son Goku is a Character (arts), fictional character and the main protagonist of the ''Dragon Ball'' manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He is based on Sun Wukong (known as Son Goku in Japan and Monkey King in the West), a main character o ...
("Kakarrot"), the protagonists of the anime series based on the video game series '' Pokémon'' and the
manga Manga (Japanese language, Japanese: 漫画 ) are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The term ...
series ''
Dragon Ball is a Japanese media franchise created by Akira Toriyama in 1984. The Dragon Ball (manga), initial manga, written and illustrated by Toriyama, was serialized in ''Weekly Shōnen Jump'' from 1984 to 1995, with the 519 individual chapters colle ...
'', respectively, both franchises which are known for including second meanings in the names of many of their characters. A recurring motif in the '' Austin Powers'' films repeatedly puns on names which suggest male genitalia. In the
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Paral ...
television series A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set which can be broadcast via over-the-air, satellite television, satellite, or cable television, cable, excluding breaking news, television adverti ...
''
Star Trek ''Star Trek'' is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the Star Trek: The Original Series, eponymous 1960s television series and quickly became a worldwide Popular culture, pop-culture Cul ...
'', " B-4" is used as the name of one of four androids models constructed "before" the android
Data In the pursuit of knowledge, data (; ) is a collection of discrete values that convey information, describing quantity, quality, fact, statistics, other basic units of meaning, or simply sequences of symbols that may be further interp ...
, a main character. A librarian in another ''Star Trek'' episode was named "Mr. Atoz" (A to Z). The parallel sequel '' The Lion King 1½'' advertised with the phrase "You haven't seen the 1/2 of it!". Wyborowa Vodka employed the slogan "Enjoyed for centuries straight", while Northern Telecom used "Technology the world calls on." On 1 June 2015 the
BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC #REDIRECT BBC Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought al ...
'' You and Yours'' included a feature on "Puntastic Shop Titles". Entries included a Chinese Takeaway in Ayr town centre called " Ayr's Wok", a kebab shop in Ireland called " Abra Kebabra" and a tree-surgeon in Dudley called "
Special Branch Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security and Intelligence (information gathering), intelligence in Policing in the United Kingdom, British, Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth, ...
". The winning entry, selected by Lee Nelson, was a dry cleaner's in Fulham and Chelsea called "Starchy and Starchy", a pun on Saatchi & Saatchi.


In the media

Paronomasia has found a strong foothold in the media.
William Safire William Lewis Safire (; Safir; December 17, 1929 – September 27, 2009Safire, William (1986). ''Take My Word for It: More on Language.'' Times Books. . p. 185.) was an American author, columnist, journalist, and presidential speechwriter. He w ...
of the ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' suggests that "the root of this pace-growing se of paronomasiais often a headline-writer's need for quick catchiness, and has resulted in a new tolerance for a long-despised form of humor." It can be argued that paronomasia is common in media headlines, to draw the reader's interest. The rhetoric is important because it connects people with the topic. A notable example is the ''
New York Post The ''New York Post'' (''NY Post'') is a conservative daily tabloid newspaper published in New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populo ...
'' headline "Headless Body in Topless Bar". Paronomasia is prevalent orally as well. Salvatore Attardo believes that puns are verbal humor. He talks about Pepicello and Weisberg's linguistic theory of humor and believes the only form of linguistic humor is limited to puns. This is because a pun is a play on the word itself. Attardo believes that only puns are able to maintain humor and this humor has significance. It is able to help soften a situation and make it less serious, it can help make something more memorable, and using a pun can make the speaker seem witty. Paronomasia is strong in print media and oral conversation so it can be assumed that paronomasia is strong in broadcast media as well. Examples of paronomasia in media are sound bites. They could be memorable because of the humor and rhetoric associated with paronomasia, thus making the significance of the
soundbite A sound bite or soundbite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence ...
stronger.


Confusion and alternative uses

There exist subtle differences between paronomasia and other literary techniques, such as the
double entendre A double entendre (plural double entendres) is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to have a double meaning, of which one is typically obvious, whereas the other often conveys a message that would be too socially a ...
. While puns are often simple wordplay for comedic or rhetorical effect, a double entendre alludes to a second meaning which is not contained within the statement or phrase itself, often one which purposefully disguises the second meaning. As both exploit the use of intentional double meanings, puns can sometimes be double entendres, and vice versa. Puns also bear similarities with paraprosdokian, syllepsis, and eggcorns. In addition, homographic puns are sometimes compared to the stylistic device antanaclasis, and homophonic puns to polyptoton. Puns can be used as a type of
mnemonic A mnemonic ( ) device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory for better understanding. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery ...
device to enhance comprehension in an educational setting. Used discreetly, puns can effectively reinforce content and aid in the retention of material. Some linguists have encouraged the creation of
neologism A neologism from Ancient Greek, Greek νέο- ''néo''(="new") and λόγος /''lógos'' meaning "speech, utterance"is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not ...
s to decrease the instances of confusion caused by puns.


History and global usage

Puns were found in
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
, where they were heavily used in the development of myths and interpretation of dreams. In
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
, Shen Dao (ca. 300 BC) used "shi", meaning "power", and "shi", meaning "position" to say that a king has power because of his position as king. In ancient
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
around 2500 BC, punning was used by scribes to represent words in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
. The
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
'' Maya Maya may refer to: Civilizations * Maya peoples, of southern Mexico and northern Central America ** Maya civilization, the historical civilization of the Maya peoples ** Maya language (disambiguation), Maya language, the languages of the Maya peop ...
are known for having used puns in their hieroglyphic writing, and for using them in their modern languages. In Japan, " graphomania" was one type of pun.Delmer M. Brown, John Whitney Hall
''The Cambridge History of Japan: Ancient Japan''
Cambridge University Press, 1993 – 650 pages page 463
In Tamil, "Sledai" is the word used to mean pun in which a word with two different meanings. This is also classified as a poetry style in ancient Tamil literature. Similarly, in Telugu, "Slesha" is the equivalent word and is one of several poetry styles in Telugu literature.


See also

* Aesopian language * Albur *
Alliteration Alliteration is the conspicuous repetition of initial consonant sounds of nearby words in a phrase, often used as a List of narrative techniques#Style, literary device. A familiar example is Peter Piper, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppe ...
* Auto-antonym * Dad joke * Dajare *
Double entendre A double entendre (plural double entendres) is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to have a double meaning, of which one is typically obvious, whereas the other often conveys a message that would be too socially a ...
*
False etymology A false etymology (fake etymology, popular etymology, etymythology, pseudo-etymology, or par(a)etymology) is a popular but false belief about the origin or derivation of a specific word. It is sometimes called a folk etymology, but this is also a ...
*
Mondegreen A mondegreen () is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to hear a lyric clearly, substitutes w ...
*
Phono-semantic matching Phono-semantic matching (PSM) is the incorporation of a word into one language from another, often creating a neologism, where the word's non-native quality is hidden by replacing it with Phonetics, phonetically and semantically similar words or ...
* Satiric misspelling *
Spoonerism A spoonerism is an occurrence in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see Metathesis (linguistics), metathesis) between two words in a phrase. These are named after the Oxford don and ordained minister Wil ...
* Tom Swifty


Notes


References

* * (access restricted) {{Authority control Ambiguity Etymology Humour Lexicology Satire Semantics Types of words Word play Words