The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of 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. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or metaphorical language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism uses an incorrect expression that alludes to another (usually correct) expression, but a pun uses a correct expression that alludes to another (sometimes correct but more often absurdly humorous) expression. Henri Bergson defined a pun as a sentence or utterance in which "two different sets of ideas are expressed, and we are confronted with only one series of words". Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, given that their usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture. For example, camping is intense (in tents).
Puns are used to create humor and sometimes require a large vocabulary to understand. Puns have long been used by comedy writers, such as William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and George Carlin. The Roman playwright Plautus is famous for his tendency to make up and change the meaning of words to create puns in Latin.
Famous quotes containing the word pun:
“A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide.”
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (18091894)
“A pun is not bound by the laws which limit nicer wit. It is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect.”
—Charles Lamb (17751834)
“A good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.”
—James Boswell (17401795)