Teach Figurative Language with Flocabulary
Some call it wordplay. Some call them puns. But whether these double meanings make you giggle or make you groan, you should know what they are. Today, our servers are bringing you a big platter of puns and wordplay from rap, literature, advertising and more. When you’re done reading, let us know whether you’re a wordplay lover or a pun hater.
Definition: Wordplay that exploits the multiple meanings of words or words that sounds alike but have different meanings.
Why Writers Use it: Punning is a showy way of demonstrating how smart you are. You’re clever enough to know the different meanings of words, and you’re going to tell everyone in a rather indiscreet way. So puns work well in a rap battle, say, when you’re trying to show that you can outsmart your opponent.
Some people use puns to make people laugh, but generally they make your audience groan, say “womp womp womp” on a descending melodic scale, roll their eyes in an exaggerated fashion or conjure the memories of beloved grandfathers. Use them at your own risk.
Pun Examples in Hip-Hop
“I put in overtime, like a tied score” – Lil’ Wayne
“Boy got drive like Ford transmissions” – Los
“You never leave the home, you’re just a back catcher” – Los
“Hear no evil see no evil, Helen Keller” – Lil’ Wayne
“Standing on my monopoly board, that means I’m on top of my game” – Eminem
“Too many Urkles on your team, that’s why your win’s low” – Kanye West
“I been fly so long I fell asleep on the plane” – Lil’ Wayne
“I don’t wanna be in the blind, but sometimes I Stevie Wonder about her” – Lil’ Wayne
“Dressed smart like a London bloke, before he speaks his suit bespoke” – Kanye West
Shakespeare’s plays are filled with puns. Some of the double meanings hinge upon meanings or pronunciations of words that no longer exist, but a lot of them still work well.
Mercutio: That dreamers often lie
Romeo: In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.
–Romeo and Juliet
“Now is the winter or our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York…”
-Richard III (sun refers to both sun and son)
“If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.”
Henry IV, Part I (Shakespearean audiences pronounced “Reason” like “raisin”)
“…ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man”
-Romeo and Juliet, just before Mercutio dies.
Newspaper headlines capitalize on puns all the time.
“Obama Lama Ding Dong (for when Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama)”
“Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious”
“Shoplifter who soiled clothes fails to wipe record clean.”
“ID thief orders pizza; police deliver justice.”
Puns in Advertising
When you take a moment to think about the pun, you’re taking a moment to think about the brand. Which is the point, of course.
“Taste. Not waist.”
“Technology the world calls on.”
“Money doesn’t grow on the trees. But it blossoms at our branches”
“Coke refreshes you like no other can”
Check Out the Previous Literary Terms in the Series
Share your best examples of puns in the comments!