One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A play on words in which a letter or group of letters in a word is altered so as to produce or suggest another word.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), philosopher. From Hellenistic Greek παράγραμμα play on words, pun (as a Greek word in Cicero ad Familiares 7. 32. 2), in ancient Greek (in Greek authors) in senses ‘substitute for a letter, in cipher’, ‘additional clause’ from παρα- + γράμμα letter; compare ancient Greek τὰ παρὰ γράμμα σκώμματα, lit. ‘jokes by the letter’.
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