English XP


Puns! How And When To Use Them

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I like to focus not only on improving vocabulary, but helping you sound more intelligent. Of all the ways in which one could sound relatable during communication, nothing could be more valuable than the use of humor. Have you observed that you are more likely to be more engaged in a conversation sprinkled with the right amount of humor than a humorless conversation? I have! Trust me you don’t want to be the protagonist in a humorless conversation. While a healthy dose of humor would certainly spice up any conversation, it can easily be overdone to ill effect. However, one of the most powerful ways of applying humor in conversation while still maintaining some sense of seriousness is through the use of puns.

What is a pun?

According the merriam-webster dictionary, A pun is a humorous play on words.

Another definition of a pun is “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.”

In other words, It is a deliberate play of words, with the objective of obtaining a comic effect from it. The main thrust of it is the dual meaning of the statement.  Now that definitions are out of the way, I guess you are wondering how puns can be applied in your daily English speech. Rest Easy! In today’s session I will be exploring this incredibly useful tool, which I think will be help provide a wider range for your vocabulary and pronunciation.

Types of puns

Homographic puns:

A homographic pun employs words that are spelled similarly but that have different sounds and meanings. These are puns that are distinguishable on sight than upon hearing them.


“Paul is the perfect glue salesman; he always sticks to his word”

“Could you help me cut the grass football field? we want to get the ball rolling

Homophonic puns:

These are puns that use word pairs that sound alike. In this case, the impact is communicated verbally.


“An optimist’s blood type is always B-positive

“After tomorrow’s mathematics test I would desperately need a place in the sum

Homonymic puns:

This happens to be a combination of homographic puns and homophonic puns.


“That clown strained himself while running into the screen door”

Compounded puns:

A compounded pun combines two or more puns. To be effective, the two puns have to be understood as one.


Do you think my runny nose is funny? I can assure you that it is snot

Recursive puns:

In this type of multi-pun statement, an understanding of the second pun is important for an understanding of the first pun.


“Mathematics is so complex, I sometimes wonder how mathematician pi their trade”

Visual pun:

Visual puns are often used in logos, symbols, enigmas and other graphic signs. In many cases parts of the pun is replaced by a picture.


USAF squadron emblem shows a kicking donkey (ass) with slogan “Kickin’ Ass” (Wikipedia)

We ‘ll leave it here for now. If you enjoyed this article, please check out other articles on the blog. There are many fun ones that would also serve to improve your English language skills. From tongue twisters to recommendations about how to choose An English language program and which to take English course to take.

Bye for now


Punpedia – The Online Encyclopedia of Puns


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