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What is Pun in Literature

A word play which recommends two or more significance and meanings, by relating several meanings of words, or of akin-sounding words, for an anticipated amusing or rhetorical influence is known as a Pun. A pun uses a correct communication that indicates to another time to time precise but more often absurdly witty expression. Puns may be viewed as mischiefs, pranks or idiomatic makings, given that their usage and meaning are completely native. For example, camping is intense (in tents). Two different cliques of ideas are stated, and we are confronted with only one sequence of words. Puns have long been used by comedy writers, such as William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, George Carlin etc. to create humor and a large vocabulary to understand and change the meaning of words. 


Definition of Pun

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"A popular literary device where the humorous substitution or use of a word or phrase so as to affirm or commend its different meanings with a humorous effect; a play on words is called Pun or Paronomasia." The use of words those are similar or nearly akin in sound but different in meaning is termed as Pun. Humorous effects created by puns depend upon the uncertainties words involve. The uncertainties and doubts arise mostly in homonyms and homophones. Puns in a book acts as a cause of amusing comical relief or a deliberate effort on the part of the writer to show his artistic talent in using the language.

What is a Pun

A play on words often humorous, which uses words that have same related sounds but different meanings, creating a wit or irony or sarcastic effect is called a Pun.  The trick is to make the reader have an “ah!” moment and discover 2 or more meanings. For instance, in a sentence “I was struggling to figure out how lightning works then it struck me.”, struck can refer to the person smacked and hurt or shut down or closed. Similarly, in a famous saying “Writing with a broken pencil is pointless.” the word “pointless” is used instead of “aimless” to produce a humorous effect.

Types of Puns

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Homophonic Puns – rely on words that sound alike or have similar sounds, rather than a single word with multiple meanings.
Examples: rain, rein, reign / pour, pore/ bread, bred and their/ there, they're.
Seven days without laughter makes one weak.

Homographic Puns or Antanaclasis Puns  – are words that have more than one meaning, despite being spelled identically or have different meanings.
  • My Dad is digging a new well.
  • David doesn’t feel well today.
Homonymic Puns – these words include both homographs and homophones.
  • I cried when I found out my macaroni had expired. It pasta way.
  • Bank (meaning embankment) and bank (where money is kept)
  • 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"
Compound Puns – that which contains two or more puns in the same sentence.
  • Never scam in the jungle; cheetahs are always spotted.
  • Why can a man never starve in the Great Desert? Because he can eat the sand which is there.
Recursive Puns – the second characteristic of the pun relies on the understanding of the first.
  • Infinity is not in finity. (where infinity is not in fine range)
  • Fourth of May is International Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.
  • Oscar Wilde - Immanuel doesn't pun, he Kant.

Visual Puns – one or more puns are replaced by a picture. In logos, graphical symbols,emblems and insignia etc.

Visual Pun

Examples of Pun

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From day to day, pun examples are found deliberately or unintentionally used in jokes and humorous remarks. Such as:
  • An elephant’s opinion carries a lot of weight.
  • Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  • The life of a patient of hypertension is always at steak.
  • A horse is a very stable animal.
  • Insects that make honey are always on their best bee-hive-iour.
  • We have an hour to kill before we have to go home.
  • He bought a donkey because he thought he might get a kick out of it.
  • Every calendar's days are numbered.
  • A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was ticketed for littering.
  • She had a photographic memory but never developed it.
  • Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a-salted.
  • A chicken crossing the road is truly poultry in motion.
  • A pessimist's blood type is always B-negative.
  • With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
  • What is the difference between a conductor and a teacher? The conductor minds the train and a teacher trains the mind.


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Find as many puns as you can and identify if it’s a homophonic, homographic or homonymic pun:
  • A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two-tired.
  • Where do you find giant snails? On the ends of giants' fingers
  • Our social studies teacher says that her globe means the world to her.
  • Being struck by lightning is really a shocking experience!
  • Have you ever heard of an honest cheetah?
  • It's OK to watch an elephant bathe as they usually have their trunks on.
  • Dieting is a matter of life and breadth.
  • The star asked the sun why the moon was always up so late. Sun responded that it was just a phase.
  • Do you know why it's easy for a hunter to find a leopard? Because a leopard is always spotted.
  • The lights were too bright at the Chinese restaurant so the manager decided to dim sum.
  • Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here; I'll go on a-head'.
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