Main definitions of pun in 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)’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's a pun on the fact that Darien called the servants pigs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We are always grateful to those who take the minute or two to keep us, and their public, in the picture - forgive the pun.’
    • ‘We can deduce whether a consonant was sounded from the way puns work.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘Pornography seems to be a like, excuse the pun, a grind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And yet, by his own admission, he had no drive - excuse the pun - nor desire to get into selling cars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Our mechanical friend ain't doing too hot - forgive the pun - either.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Forgive the pun, but this is a spellbinding book.’
    • ‘Mrs Conti doubtless had a lively night. Competitive eating has, excuse the pun, become very big over the last two decades.’
    • ‘By all reports, the mountain men love mountain women almost as much as winning rugby league games (a cheap pun based on no facts).’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘While the work puns on Minimalist sculpture by Carl Andre, it also serves as an emblem of cleanliness in the age of AIDS.’
    • ‘The laws of sexual selection in the Great British Tabloid mean that you must pun, because punning is what the readers expect.’
    • ‘His reputation was revived by the Surrealists, who admired his visual punning.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘She hit the headlines last month when an advertisement punning on a nursery rhyme was banned for being likely to harm children.’
    • ‘The punning allusion to the Cubism of Picasso's eyes is exact.’
    • ‘For a while, the evangelical cohort remained fair game: we could pun on Pentecostals, have fun with fundamentalists and chuckle over conservatives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Howard puns shamelessly on ‘member’ and ‘knocked off’ to suggest the sham and bravura behind protocols of cultural authority.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘The word ‘sine’ can be punned with the word ‘sign’, or loosely, ‘symbol’.’
    • ‘The plots usually concerned customs surrounding marriage and procreation, while mocking the earthier aspects of love and sex, and punning on gender reversals.’
    • ‘Some of Mullen's pieces reflect the universal forms of riddles and punning found at the origins of all literatures.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Is it possible that in 1687-8 his informant was punning with Joutel?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When he puns on the word ‘swallow ‘in his Lewinsky song, they rock with laughter.’’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘He puns on its image to connote a flower, by delineating its rays in the shape of petals.’
    • ‘Cruelly punning, he calls his baroness ‘Barrenness’.’
    • ‘Built by Federico II Gonzaga to entertain his lover - hence the punning name: ‘Tea Palace’ and/or ‘You Palace’.’
    • ‘He could also be relied on to make punning use of the word ‘horn’ in his show titles.’
    • ‘I'm so bitter and bitchy, I can't even be bothered to pun on that last sentence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cecilia's surname Dela-mere puns ingeniously: over the sea, but also over the mere or lake.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Gas from a Burner is a poem which puns on the word gas.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘Lay brother Julian (the word lay is punned on ad nauseam) is seduced by Miss Alice in grotesque fashion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The punning allusion would have delighted at least some contemporaries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Michelle Kearney, the magazine's editor, likes to stand in front of large photos of slashing scalpels while punning: ‘We are totally cutting edge’.’
    • ‘Exploration of linguistic cross-references yields some stylistic delights, such as the felicitously punning chapter title ‘Trojan Whores.’’
    • ‘There's plenty more punning jokes like that, spouting from the crooked mouth of Harrogate Theatre's dimple-cheeky silly billy, Tim Stedman.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The title was something to do with punning on ‘writer's block’ or ‘bloggers' rights’.’
    • ‘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.’

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 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/