20 Common Examples of Pun

Definition of Pun

A pun is a type of word play which relies on using a word in two of more of its meanings or on the fact that two or more words sound very similar. Puns are generally employed for humor but can be used to explain or to stress an idea or an argument. They are used in the spoken and written language, literature, jokes and everyday conversation. The appreciation of puns requires the mastery of language as well as the capability to grasp the connotations implicit.

Types of Puns

Puns are categorized into different types. This division is based on how they utilize the multiple meanings and sounds of the words. Here are some common types of puns:

1. Homophonic Puns

Homophonic puns are words that sound similar but have different meanings and spellings. These puns are based on phonetic similarity, which create humor and double meaning. For example: “I used to be a baker, but I could not make enough dough.” Here, the word “dough” is a pun, that is used for both baking and money.

2. Homographic Puns

These puns are involved the words having same spelling but with different meanings and sometimes different pronunciations. Homographic puns use the unclear meanings of written language. For example, “I have a fear of speed bumps, but I am slowly getting over it.” The use of “getting over it” covers both overcome of fear and driving over a speed breaker.

3. Compound Puns

Compound puns are the combination of homophonic and homographic components. They produce intrigue humor by connecting various meanings and sounds. For example, “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” The first part of the sentence reflects the speedy passage of time, whereas the second part shows the dual meanings of the word “flies”, that can be insect and the action. Further the word “like” also gives a double meanings of “similar” and “enjoying”.

4. Visual Puns

These puns involve the use of images in portraying pictures, creating jokes and making the fun. These types of puns are often used in comics, advertisements and visual media. For example, “A cartoon of a fish in a business suit saying, “I am the sole proprietor.” The word “sole” can be used in two ways, firstly for a “fish” and secondly for using the word “only”.

20 Common Examples of Pun

  1. I am reading a book about anti-gravity. It is impossible to put down. (“put down” is used for both physically set something down and to criticize it.
  2. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. (flies is used for time flies and fruit flies).
  3. I used to be a baker, but I could not make enough dough. (the word dough is referred to both baking and money).
  4. A bicycle can not stand on its own because it is two-tired. (two tired sounds as “too tired” and the bike contains two tires).
  5. Why do not some couples go to the gym? Because some relationships do not work out. (Here “work out” means exercising and solving problems).
  6. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me. (The sentence contains the word “hit me”, that is used for hitting the baseball and the instant realization).
  7. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He is all right now. (The word “All right” is used both for “okay” and for the only side left).
  8. I am glad I know sign language, it is pretty handy. (The word “handy” is used for both useful and involving hands).
  9. I used to be a shoe salesman, but I got the boot. (Here, “got the boot” means fired and a type of shoe).
  10. They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O. (The “type O” sounds like typo)
  11. The grammarian was very logical. He had a lot of comma sense. (“Comma sense” refers to “common sense”)
  12. I could not figure out how to fasten my seatbelt. Then it clicked. (Here “clicked” refers to the understanding of something and the sound of seatbelt when fastened).
  13. I am friends with all the letters of the alphabet. I know them all personally. (The use of word “personally” sounds like “personally” or to know someone individually).
  14. Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers? He made a mint. (Here, “made a mint” produces expressions of creating a candy and earing a lot of money).
  15. A boiled egg every morning is hard to beat. (In the sentence, the “hard to beat” is used for a difficult challenge and consistency of a boiled egg).
  16. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie. (Here, the word “Tie” is used to a draw in a race and the result of their spinning silk).
  17. I used to be a doctor, but I lost my patience. (The word “patience” is also similar to the word “patients”).
  18. Did you hear about the fire at the circus? It was in tents. (Here, the word “In tents” sounds like “intense”).
  19. The cross-eyed teacher could not control his pupils. (The word “Pupils” is used for students and parts of the eye).
  20. I gave all my dead batteries away today… free of charge. (Here, the “Free of charge” refers to not costing anything and not an electrical charge).
Common Examples of Pun
Common Examples of Pun

Pun Examples in Literature


Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.”
“Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”

In the excerpt, the words ‘sole’ and ‘soul’ have been used as puns. Romeo is feeling depressed and says that he cannot dance because his “soul” (spiritual essence) is so heavy that it seems more like lead. Mercutio replies with the pun, thus looking down to the ‘soles’ of Romeo ‘s shoes. The pun has been used by juxtaposing the two different meanings of the words. The use of pun depicts the sadness of Romeo and his disinclination to join in the festive mood.


Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

“We got into conversation, and he told me that he was a ‘Pip’ of Hopeful Hops.”

The author makes a play on the word “Pip. ” On one hand, it is the main character’s nickname, and on the other hand ‘‘Pip’’ means part of the plant seed. This word play is very meaningful and ties to the character’s optimism and developmental potential, while simultaneously being referencing to a beginning and growth in a literal seed sense as well as in the metaphorical sense of aspiration.


“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

“We must have a trial, for really this morning I have nothing to do,” said the Queen. “Why, there is a mistake somewhere!” “Of course not,” said the King. “It’s all writ down.”

Here, the King plays on the double meaning of the word “writ,” which means something written down and a legal document. The use of pun adds humor and gives sense of double meaning, fitting the senseless and nonsensical text of the story that is peculiar to Carroll.


The Importance of Being EarnestBy Oscar Wilde

“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Wilde employs a humor that is based on a double entendre of the word ‘lose’ ; lose can mean to lose something or to lose the person. The humorous implication is the fact that death of a parent is an event one cannot control, while the line puts one in laughter’s verge indicating the wit and satirical style of the writer.


“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The paradoxical pun has been used to explore the concept of equality and to highlight the hypocrisy and absurdity of the ruling class. The pun serves as a strong criticism on the political corruption and propaganda.


The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

The word “tongues” relates to common human way of expressing one’s opinions and the figurative idea that trees cannot speak for themselves. This pun underlines the fact that the book’s main character is a self-appointed guardian of the environment, pointing to the fact that nature requires an advocate who can speak on its behalf.

Literary Devices Related to Pun

1. Double Entendre

These are expressions with double meanings. The second meaning is usually different and often humorous. They use vague words and phrases to create a humor. Double entendres are usually employed in the literature and in everyday speech. They add extra tiers of meaning and capture the attention of the audience.

2. Paronomasia

It is a rhetorical device, which is similar to the pun. While using Paronomasia, the writer chooses those words that are similar in sound but have different meanings. It is used to create a witty and humorous effect. The words that are used while employing this technique contain similar phonetic sounds, however, their meanings are different.

Read also: What is a pun in literature?

Puns are an entertaining and fun type of the wordplay that contribute to the development and diversification of the language both oral and written. They are used to create fun, add humor, and illustrate ideas and concepts by using the words with multiple meanings.

Puns remain a crucial tool of any writer, underscoring the seemingly infinite number of ways one can use language. When puns are used in literature and in daily usage, the readers are encouraged to think deeper about word choices, and the creativity of words.

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