Main definitions of pun in US English:

: pun1pun2

pun1

noun

  • A joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.

    ‘the pigs were a squeal (if you'll forgive the pun)’
    • ‘A whole whack of puns, one-liners and double entendres get crammed into the 90-minute running time, and most of them fall flatter than a postage stamp.’
    • ‘And yet, by his own admission, he had no drive - excuse the pun - nor desire to get into selling cars.’
    • ‘Alexander Witt who has directed this film is a competent second unit director and delivers what is expected of him - absolutely brain-dead stuff - forgive the obnoxious pun!’
    • ‘A healthy diet is, if you'll forgive the pun, a movable feast.’
    • ‘Using the curse of the werewolf as a metaphor for puberty, it's a sharp and, forgive the pun, biting take on adolescence.’
    • ‘Our mechanical friend ain't doing too hot - forgive the pun - either.’
    • ‘By all reports, the mountain men love mountain women almost as much as winning rugby league games (a cheap pun based on no facts).’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the simple economics of house building mean that once a house has distinctive details, a sizeable garden and large rooms in a desirable location, the price, forgive the pun, will go through the roof.’
    • ‘Pornography seems to be a like, excuse the pun, a grind.’
    • ‘It's a pun on the fact that Darien called the servants pigs.’
    • ‘Colonic irrigation may be the butt - excuse the pun - of many a joke, but for those who benefit from the treatment it's no laughing matter.’
    • ‘You'll forgive the pun, but, Rocco, isn't this just a bit Mickey Mouse for you?’
    • ‘The flaming comet on the cover and the name pun on the fact that Chitti's birth year is sadharana in the Hindu calendar, when Haley's comet was sighted.’
    • ‘Paisley should voice his support for the men of the cloth who will bear witness any disarmament and take their word as, excuse the pun, gospel.’
    • ‘We can deduce whether a consonant was sounded from the way puns work.’
    • ‘The name Cindy sounds like a near pun to cinders, which speaks again to the idea of complete destruction for the birth of some new work.’
    • ‘Mrs Conti doubtless had a lively night. Competitive eating has, excuse the pun, become very big over the last two decades.’
    • ‘Stuart Wenham how about you give us a bit of a sense of how your work in photovoltaic research has plugged into the Olympic Games, excuse the pun?’
    • ‘Forgive the pun, but this is a spellbinding book.’
    • ‘We are always grateful to those who take the minute or two to keep us, and their public, in the picture - forgive the pun.’
    play on words, wordplay, double entendre, double meaning, innuendo, witticism, quip
    View synonyms

verb

[no object]
  • Make a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word.

    ‘his first puzzle punned on composers, with answers like “Handel with care” and “Haydn go seek”’
    ‘a punning riddle’
    • ‘There are so many rhyming couplets, which lends itself to rap, and so much punning and wordplay, which are the same tools that hip-hop uses.’
    • ‘There are some truly stupid sequel titles out there, which are either puns on the word ‘two’ or add some extra element to the original that lets you know it's a sequel.’
    • ‘The laws of sexual selection in the Great British Tabloid mean that you must pun, because punning is what the readers expect.’
    • ‘In his great novel Ulysses, James Joyce, punning on the old line ‘An Englishman's home is his castle’ reflects that ‘The Irishman's house is his coffin’.’
    • ‘The word ‘sine’ can be punned with the word ‘sign’, or loosely, ‘symbol’.’
    • ‘She hit the headlines last month when an advertisement punning on a nursery rhyme was banned for being likely to harm children.’
    • ‘His reputation was revived by the Surrealists, who admired his visual punning.’
    • ‘When he puns on the word ‘swallow ‘in his Lewinsky song, they rock with laughter.’’
    • ‘Is it possible that in 1687-8 his informant was punning with Joutel?’
    • ‘It's a densely allusive, punning, always associative flow that manages to keep its narrative movement alive with dizzying glances in all directions along the way.’
    • ‘Lay brother Julian (the word lay is punned on ad nauseam) is seduced by Miss Alice in grotesque fashion.’
    • ‘For a while, the evangelical cohort remained fair game: we could pun on Pentecostals, have fun with fundamentalists and chuckle over conservatives.’
    • ‘I'm so bitter and bitchy, I can't even be bothered to pun on that last sentence.’
    • ‘Howard puns shamelessly on ‘member’ and ‘knocked off’ to suggest the sham and bravura behind protocols of cultural authority.’
    • ‘Built by Federico II Gonzaga to entertain his lover - hence the punning name: ‘Tea Palace’ and/or ‘You Palace’.’
    • ‘The Sages of the Talmud put it pithily, punning on the Hebrew word for ‘etched,’ used in reference to the words carved on the Tablets of the Law.’’
    • ‘Cruelly punning, he calls his baroness ‘Barrenness’.’
    • ‘Exploration of linguistic cross-references yields some stylistic delights, such as the felicitously punning chapter title ‘Trojan Whores.’’
    • ‘Some of Mullen's pieces reflect the universal forms of riddles and punning found at the origins of all literatures.’
    • ‘While the work puns on Minimalist sculpture by Carl Andre, it also serves as an emblem of cleanliness in the age of AIDS.’
    • ‘Act 3, Scene 1, line 5 The clown puns expertly, then says that words are so easy to manipulate, so easy to use for bad purposes, that he is afraid to use them.’
    • ‘He could also be relied on to make punning use of the word ‘horn’ in his show titles.’
    • ‘Cecilia's surname Dela-mere puns ingeniously: over the sea, but also over the mere or lake.’
    • ‘The constant punning and allusions through sampling naturally makes them literate in the most unpretentious manner I have heard and seen out of a group so avant-garde.’
    • ‘First, it isn't Hobbes's view that the relation between states is characterised as involving a ‘clubbable’ social life, unless we're punning on ‘club’.’
    • ‘The punning allusion to the Cubism of Picasso's eyes is exact.’
    • ‘What is one to do with the oh-so-clever title of the book, which puns on ‘regarding’ as both a visual and cognitive facility?’
    • ‘There's some sort of joke / pun to be made here using the phrase ‘I'd give my eye teeth ’, but I can't figure out what it is.’
    • ‘Dreamworks' hands-off approach is evident in the finished film, which is defiantly British in its quirky choice of subject matter and love of absurd punning.’
    • ‘Many philosophers and social scientists regard Derrida and Lacan primarily as literary jesters, as both are noted for their elaborate punning and impenetrably dense style.’
    • ‘Of course, any respectably Derridean response to that would then pun on the word ‘re-mark’ and launch into a discussion of film, testimony, and writing.’
    • ‘Any theatre which presents a drama about poker lays itself open to critics punning madly about it ‘taking a gamble’ or ‘playing for high stakes’.’
    • ‘There's plenty more punning jokes like that, spouting from the crooked mouth of Harrogate Theatre's dimple-cheeky silly billy, Tim Stedman.’
    • ‘The title was something to do with punning on ‘writer's block’ or ‘bloggers' rights’.’
    • ‘The present US administration alone has generated travelgate, nannygate, sexgate, troopergate, fornigate, whitewatergate (at least that one has a punning reference to the original), and filegate.’
    • ‘He puns on its image to connote a flower, by delineating its rays in the shape of petals.’
    • ‘The plots usually concerned customs surrounding marriage and procreation, while mocking the earthier aspects of love and sex, and punning on gender reversals.’
    • ‘Michelle Kearney, the magazine's editor, likes to stand in front of large photos of slashing scalpels while punning: ‘We are totally cutting edge’.’
    • ‘Gas from a Burner is a poem which puns on the word gas.’
    • ‘The punning allusion would have delighted at least some contemporaries.’

Origin

Mid 17th century: perhaps an abbreviation of obsolete pundigrion, as a fanciful alteration of punctilio.

Pronunciation

pun

/pən//pən/

Main definitions of pun in US English:

: pun1pun2

pun2

verb

[with object]British
  • Consolidate (earth or rubble) by pounding it.

Origin

Mid 16th century: dialect variant of pound.

Pronunciation

pun

/pən//pən/