Derided as “dad jokes,” met with groans or held up as the highest form of hilarity—people tend to have very different (and very strong) opinions about puns. These time-tested plays on words can add a lighthearted touch of humor to conversations and literary works alike. 

So take the time to learn more about puns, their origins and how to create your own. You’ll pun-doubtedly be glad you did. 

What Is a Pun? 

As per its official definition, a pun is “the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound.” 

If you think that sounds remarkably similar to a double entendre, you’re not wrong. But according to the good folks over at Merriam-Webster, the difference is that a double entendre is typically “shocking or risqué” in its suggestiveness, while a pun is simply “silly and humorous.” 

So if you prefer your jokes to be more goofy than provocative, you’ll love the pun-deniable fun that puns provide. 

Punny Examples 

Acquaint yourself with puns (and master how to be funny) by reading up on amusing examples. 

  • If you read a good book while laying out in the sun, you’re liable to get well-red. 
  • A very short psychic escaped from prison; now she’s a small medium at large. 
  • I was trying to learn how lightning works, and then it struck me. 
  • If you’re skilled at grammar, then you must have lots of comma sense. 
  • A boiled egg is hard to beat. 

No Pun Intended

If you hear someone say “no pun intended,” it’s because the phrase they just uttered could easily be mistaken for a pun, even though they didn’t intend it to be one. says that an early example of “no pun intended” comes from a 19th-century story. 

In it, the writer referred to a turkey’s antics as “fowl play,” and immediately followed that statement with “no pun intended.” 

On the flip side, if you ever make a pun and want to make your humorous intentions crystal clear, you can follow it up with “pun intended.” Because in the case of puns, explaining the joke actually can make it funnier — take that, joke snobs. 

Literary Puns 

In the words of the late concert pianist and pun-slinger Oscar Levant, “a pun is the lowest form of humor—when you don't think of it first.” 

In that same vein, these examples from classic novels and plays prove that puns have their place in high-brow literature:

  • In “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare, a character named Mercutio says while dying: “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man." 
  • In “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, Alice meets a mouse who says: “Mine is a long and sad tale!” Alice responds by saying: “It is a long tail, certainly, but why do you call it sad?” 
  • In “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, a character named Lady Bracknell says to another character: “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” 

Writing with Puns 

Want to take a page from Shakespeare’s book and incorporate puns into your own writing? Take a few tips into consideration for the best (and most entertaining) results. 

  • Learn from the best: Writers like the three listed above are renowned for their razor-sharp wit and creative plays on words. So if you’d like to create witty writings of your own, start by studying the works of the most brilliant wordsmiths around. 
  • Expand your vocabulary: Consuming media from different time periods and parts of the world can help you develop a broader vocabulary, and therefore give you much more material to work with when crafting puns. 
  • Make puns with intention: Creating your own puns is a blast, but make sure they’re well-placed and accomplish what you want them to when adding them to your writing. For instance, unless you’re trying to learn the art of humor writing, you’ll probably want to use puns sparingly and only in places where comic relief is needed. 

Puns in the Wild

Puns don’t have to be relegated to the realm of writing. As famous public figures and clever Halloween celebrants have shown, puns can be just as funny in the real world. 

Let That Sink In 

Shortly after purchasing Twitter in October 2022, Elon Musk used an elaborate pun to mark his grand entrance to the social network’s headquarters. Specifically, he posted a Tweet reading: “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” Attached to the Tweet was a video of Musk walking into Twitter’s main offices carrying a large porcelain sink: 

A tweet from Elon Musk reading ‘Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!’ Underneath the text is a video of Musk carrying a white porcelain sink into Twitter’s main office. 
Elon Musk brought everything to his first day at Twitter HQ, including the kitchen sink.

If that’s not commitment to the art of puns, we don’t know what is. 

Shave Time, Shave Money

As the first major razor subscription service, Dollar Shave Club made big waves in the razor industry when it debuted in 2011. 

It certainly didn’t hurt that their slogan was memorable, to-the-point and just the right amount of punny: “Shave time, shave money.”

And given that the brand gained millions of subscribers in just a few years, it’s fair to say that plenty of people were persuaded to do just that. 

Halls and Oats

For pun enthusiasts around the world, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to display their punny prowess in the form of clever costumes. 

One classic example is that of 70s superstars Hall and Oates being represented by two people, with one dressed as a bag of Halls brand cough drops and one dressed as a canister of oats. 

For fans of 1970s-era pop rock, this costume is simply the pun-nacle of humor. 

Go Ahead, Have Some Pun 

Marketing, everyday conversation, classic literature, casual social media posts—puns have cropped up in spectacular fashion across all facets of culture, and for good reason. These cheeky plays on words are just plain fun, and with a little practice you’ll soon be pun-slinging with the best of them.

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Written By
Carrie Buchholz

Carrie Buchholz

Carrie Buchholz is a freelance writer who lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog.

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