Video:What Is a Pun?with Jen D'Amore
Puns are plays-on-words that can be found anywhere from corny jokes to classic literature. Learn all about this effective writing tool in this how-to video from About.com.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is a Pun?
Hi, I'm Jen D'Amore for About.com, and this video is all about puns. What is a pun?
What is a Pun?
A pun, or paronomasia, is a play on words. It "plays" with the multiple meanings of a word or the different meanings of similar sounding words.
You may be most familiar with puns used in jokes, usually considered "corny" jokes.
Example: a horse walks into a bar, the bartender asks "why the long face?"
In this case you need to know that a horse, physically has a long face, and that the colloquial description of having a "long face" means looking sad.
What are the Types of Puns?
There are a few different types of puns.
Homographic puns are when the key words are spelled the same. They have different meanings and sounds. Like bass and bass. Bass being the musical instrument and bass being the fish. Homographic puns work best written, and may be lost if only spoken. "You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish, unless it's a bass." Or bass? Since they sound different it needs to be read to see the similarity.
Homophonic puns have words that sound alike but don't mean the same thing, like profit, and prophet. "Atheism is a non-prophet organization."
Homonymic puns use words that are both homographic and homophonic, so they look and sound the same, but have different meanings. For example, dough is spelled the same whether you're referring to the dough that makes donuts, or using it as slang for "money."
There are also compound puns, where two or more puns are used in a statement, and recursive puns, in which more in depth understanding of the first element used is necessary for understanding the "play on words." For example, to understand the pun: "A horse is a very stable animal," you have to know that horses live in stables.
Also in comic strips or advertisements you may see visual puns, like a stick of butter with wings to represent a butterfly.
How to Make a Pun
Here's how to make a pun:
Start by finding a word, or words, homophones, homonyms etc, that have different meanings, like dough or profit/prophet and work backwards.
Dough - meaning money or the substance that turns into bread. Who deals with bread? A baker. Then build a story around it. A baker wanted to open a second bakery, but he couldn't. Why not? He just didn't have the dough.
Puns are used not only in the corniest of jokes but can also be found in some of the greatest literature.
Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.