Pun - Explore What It Is, Definition, How to Use and Examples

Pun equals fun. Are you a person who likes to make a situation a little humorous? Do you enjoy cracking jokes and being the one who can make people laugh? Even if you are a person who just wants to have a good laugh, this article is for you. Learn how to form interesting and hilarious puns by exploring the meaning, definition and how puns can be formed and used. Also, go through the number of examples given in the article for a clearer idea and to have a good time. Learn and have fun in one go. Check out the topics given below.

Table of Contents

What is a Pun? – Meaning and Definition

A pun is a figure of speech that includes a play of words that have more than one meaning or those that sound alike. Among the figures of speech, pun can be said to be the most intriguing and amusing. All that one requires is a creative intellect and some wit to create humorous puns.

Now, take a look at how various dictionaries define the term ‘pun’. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘pun’ as “the clever or humorous use of a word that has more than one meaning, or of words that have different meanings but sound the same”, and according to the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, the term ‘pun’ is explained as “an expression that achieves emphasis or humour by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meanings being suggested either by the same word or by two similar-sounding words.” The dictionary also mentions ‘paronomasia’ as an alternate term to refer to ‘pun’.

‘Pun’ is defined as “a humorous use of a word or phrase that has several meanings or that sounds like another word”, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, and “the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

How to Form Unputdownable Puns? – Points to Remember

Forming puns can be an easy job if you know how to use words skillfully to create a humorous effect. Take a look at the following points to learn the different ways in which puns can be formed.

  • Using homonyms can be the best and most effective way to form puns. Homonyms include homophones (words that have the same sound but different meanings and/or different spellings) and homographs (words that have the same spelling but different meanings and/or different pronunciation).
  • The next thing that can help you with the formation of puns is the clever use of these words in a way that would make it look and sound humourous.
  • In order to be able to do that, you should first decide what is the kind of meaning you want your audience to perceive.
  • The sentence structure you employ is another important factor that will decide how creative and funny your puns can be.
  • Punctuation can be one other factor that helps you with the construction of puns. A common example of this is,

A woman without her man, is nothing.

A woman – without her, man is nothing.

  • Also, if you have a particular word that would produce the effect of a pun, you can use a dictionary to find rhyming words to complete the sentence and give the effect you intend to bring forth.

Now that you know how to make puns fun, try using punctuation marks, various sentence structures and homonyms to form interesting puns.

Examples of Puns

Having learnt what a pun is and how to form puns, going through a few examples can be your next step. Check out the number of examples given below, study how it is done and try writing some on your own.

Some Hilarious Examples of Puns from Movies and TV Shows

Here are a few examples of puns from famous movies and television series for your reference.

Example 1:

The following example from the movie, ‘Winnie the Pooh’ plays with the words knot and not.

Rabbit : Good grief! Tie them together, Piglet! Can you tie a knot?

Piglet : I cannot.

Rabbit : Ah, so you CAN knot.

Piglet : No. I cannot knot.

Example 2:

King Candy, in the movie, ‘Wreck It Ralph’ is seen chased by Ralph in a scene. He puts on a pair of glasses and expects that Ralph would not hit a guy with glasses, but Ralph, on the other hand, used the glasses to hit him. The word ‘glasses’ here refers to a pair of spectacles.

King Candy: “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?

Oh…you hit a guy, with glasses. Well played.”

Example 3:

In the movie, ‘Zootopia’, when all the police officers of Zootopia(animals) gather in a room to discuss the affairs to be taken care of, Chief Bogo (the bull) enters the room saying that he has three items on the docket to be discussed. He starts the meeting saying, “First, we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room” and then after a short pause, says, “Francine” and then “Happy birthday!”

The moment Chief Bogo says this and utters the name, everyone turns to him in shock and the moment he wishes the elephant ‘Happy birthday’, everyone starts to cheer and wish her.

This is a wonderful example of pun as the phrase, ‘elephant in the room’ means a major problem or something that is controversial and for which any sort of discussion is normally avoided. The only thing to be noted here is that the usage of ‘elephant in the room’ is done in the literal sense and does not imply the phrasal meaning.

Example 4:

Zazu: “Well the buzz from the bees is that the leopards are in a bit of a spot. And the baboons are going ape over this. Of course, the giraffes are acting like they’re above it all… The tick birds are pecking on the elephants. I told the elephants to forget it, but they can’t. The cheetahs are hard up, but I always say, cheetahs never prosper.”

The above example is from the movie, ‘The Lion King’. Zazu, the red-billed hornbill is the royal advisor of the Pride Lands kingdom. In this scene, Zazu is seen giving the morning report to Mufasa, the Lion King. This dialogue by Zazu is a clever example of a pun. The word, ‘buzz’ is associated with the sound of bees and also means an activity that creates an atmosphere of activity or excitement. It also means gossip.

The next occurrence of pun is with the use of the word, ‘spot’. The phrase, ‘a bit of spot’ means to face a predicament or to be in a challenging situation. In addition to this, the word ‘spot’ can also refer to the spots on the leopard. Likewise, there are more occurrences of puns in the dialogue. Giraffes acting as if they are above it all and elephants not able to forget about the tick birds are examples of pun. The usage of the phrase, ‘above it all’ means that nothing affects them. It can also relate to the giraffe being taller than all the other animals. The elephants not being able to forget can relate to the literal meaning as well as to the fact that elephants have the largest brains among all land mammals and also a very good memory power.

Example 5:

If you are a person who watches English series, you should have definitely come across a lot of puns. One such example of the use of pun in the series, ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S.’ is found in the scene when Chandler is speaking to Joey about settling down.

Chandler: “It’s time to settle down. Make a choice. Pick a lane.”

Joey: “Who’s Elaine?”

Some Common Examples of Puns from Literature

Let us also take a look at a few examples of pun from different works of literature. Check out the examples given below.

Example 1:

In Act III Scene 1 of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, William Shakespeare gives an example of a pun intended in the following lines.

Mercutio: “No, ’tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”

The use of the word ‘grave’ helps give the effect as the word can either act as an adjective meaning serious and sober or as a noun meaning a tomb. However, here, Mercutio means to say that he would be dead and in the grave because of the wounds.

Example 2:

“‘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.”

The above lines are from the novel, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. The pun intended here is with the use of the homophone pair – ‘tale’ and ‘tail’.

Example 3:

Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest’ has multiple occurrences of pun. The use of the word ‘earnest’ and the character’s name, ‘Ernest’ induces the effect of pun to a great extent. Jack, who is neither earnest nor Ernest, becomes both by the end of the play.

An example of the same is given below. Check it out and try to analyse the pun intended.

Jack: “I always told you, Gwendolen, my name was Ernest, didn’t I? Well, it is Ernest after all. I mean it naturally is Ernest.”

Frequently Asked Questions on Puns

What is a pun?

A pun is a figure of speech that includes a play of words that have more than one meaning or those that sound alike.

What is the definition of pun?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘pun’ as “the clever or humorous use of a word that has more than one meaning, or of words that have different meanings but sound the same”, and according to the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, the term ‘pun’ is explained as “an expression that achieves emphasis or humour by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meanings being suggested either by the same word or by two similar-sounding words.”

Give some examples of pun.

Here are a few examples of pun for your reference.

  • “First, we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room” (Zootopia)
  • “I always told you, Gwendolen, my name was Ernest, didn’t I? Well, it is Ernest after all. I mean it naturally is Ernest.” (‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde)
  • “No, ’tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.” (‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare)
  • “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?
  • Oh…you hit a guy, with glasses. Well played.” (Wreck It Ralph)

  • “‘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.” (‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll)

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