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Figures of Speech - Puns


What are puns?

A pun, also called paronomasia, involves a word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. Puns are constructions used in jokes and idioms whose usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture. To be understood, puns require a large vocabulary.

Examples:

These are examples of puns:

  • "Atheism is a non-prophet institution"
    The word "prophet" is put in place of its homophone "profit", altering the common phrase "non-profit institution".
  • "Question: Why do we still have troops in Germany?
    Answer: To keep the Russians in Czech" - Joke.
    This joke relies on the aural ambiguity of the homophones "check" and "Czech"
  • "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 /'bęs/ (a kind of fish).

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