Fun Puns. Well, Isn’t That Punny

Puns are perhaps one of the oldest literary tools around and date back thousands of years. At one point, the pun was considered the height of sophistication. However, many do not like them, so they have and are most often considered the lowest form of humor. Interestingly, puns have been identified in some of the earliest known writing, including ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

What is Pun?

In the simplest terms, a Pun is a play on words typically with a humorous result. A pun is a form of wordplay that involves the use of words with multiple meanings or words that sound similar and have different meanings. Puns can be used to create humor, add emphasis, or make a point.  An example would be a writing business whose name is, The Write Stuff. Note that “write” could be understood as both “writing” and “right” as in correct.

How to pronounce Pun?

Pun is pronounced like “puhn” and is possibly derived from the Latin punctilio.

When do writers use Pun?

Writers typically use puns in their writing to add humor, but they may also be used to add emphasis or make a point. One of the puns biggest fans was Shakespeare, who frequently included them in his plays to add humor.

Other reasons a writer might choose to use puns include:

  • Adding ambiguity to their writing.
  • To highlight a particular word.
  • Or to add irony.

How to use Pun?

While there really is no set rule governing the use of puns, there are a few guidelines which function as a sort of unspoken rule book.

  • Play with words. Try to choose two words that sound similar but have different meanings.
  • Play with homophones and homographs.
  • Use free association.
  • Play with grammar.
  • Make references.
  • Make sure the pun is relevant to the context of the sentence.
  • Use puns sparingly to avoid overusing them.
  • Use puns to add humor or irony, add emphasis, or to make a point.
  • Be aware of the audience and their understanding of the pun.

Puns in Literature 📚

Literature is rife with pun, particularly if you look to Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a master of the pun and wrote them seemingly without any effort. After his duel and he lay dying in the street, Mercutio says:

“Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”

Grave” is the pun in this line as it can be taken to mean, Mercutio is in bad shape or he is already in the grave.

Another great example is Dickens’ Great Expectations when Pip, fed up with the townspeople’s talk of him remarks:

“They seemed to think the opportunity lost, if they failed to point the conversation to me, every now and then, and stick the point into me.”

By using “point” as the pun in this passage, Pip is saying that at times, the conversation is about him but when it is directed to him, it cuts into him (he is being insulted).

And lesser known, or perhaps, lesser discussed, is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. This book is packed with puns but one the greatest is found in the line,

We had breakfast in the town of Soda, pop. 1001.

By using the abbreviation for population, Nabokov plays off of the town name of Soda and creates a reference to the beverage, soda pop.

Pun in Children’s Literature 🧸

When examining children’s literature, quite a few notable references stick out. One of those can be found in Lewis Carrol’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. When Alice encounters the Muse, she becomes confused by his words resulting in quite the humorous exchange.

“‘Mine is a long and a sad tale!’ said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing. ‘It is a long tail, certainly,’ said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail; ‘but why do you call it sad?’ And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking.”

In this passage, the Mouse is referring to his story, but Alice is confused and thinks he is talking about his literal tail being sad.

Pun in Song 🎧

One of the greatest teaching videos around for the grammatically challenged. But also, full of puns. Weird Al” Yankovic. “Word Crimes,”

“Your prose is dopey, and it knows no bounds / You should not be allowed to write in nouns”

And for the full effect . . .

Puns in Film and Movie Dialogue 🎥

Because puns are so common in film and pop culture dialogue, this brief video has compiled a list of 25 puns in Disney movies intended (mostly) for adults.

Pun in Advertising 📺

Oh! Where to Begin? If double entendre are the bread and butter of advertising, maybe the pun is the gold standard. Enjoy this list of sometimes genius, mostly funny ad slogans.

  • Espresso yourself
  • Our Little Softie Just Got Softer
  • On an advertisement at Taco Bell: “Need a Job? Let’s Taco About It.”
  • Lettuce Deliver
  • In a want ad: “Wanted: One night stand.
  • On a taxi advertising for Snickers: “Snaxi”
  • A bank advertisement for free checking: “Free range checkin’”
  • And last but not least . . . On a fry stand in the mall: “Lord of the Fries”

Similar to a Pun is . . . 👥