Paronomasia, n. – a pun

Puns

You either love ’em,

or you hate ’em.

Some people just love to tell a good pun no matter the situation. Like at a football game:

“Whoa, Bill, that team is scoring high! They must be very offensive!”

Or at work:

“When I’m feeling tired at work I just use my smart phone to download a nap.”

Sometimes they even make puns about puns:

“Once, there was a man who entered a local newspaper’s pun contest. He sent in ten different puns, in hope that at least one of the puns would win. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.”

Geez.

Do you ever wonder if puns are possibly more than just annoying jokes? Probably not, but let me tell ya, today’s cheesy puns are not the best representatives of the art of paronomasia. In reality, puns can make you think and increase clarity when discerning the meaning of literature. In fact, punning can be traced far back into the world’s history.

You’d be amazed how many puns are the Christian Bible. We’re talking about some of the oldest puns in the world. One of the oldest puns comes from the book of Judges, written 3,ooo years ago. In tenth chapter of Judges it states the following:

“thirty sons, who rode around on thirty burros and lived in thirty boroughs.”

Many word plays like these show up in both testaments. Even Jesus Christ punned!

A fabulous writer who used puns extensively is William Shakespeare. Especially in Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare used masterful and complicated puns that make audiences and readers laugh to this day. Here are a few of his more complex puns from the tragic love story:

Mercutio; “tomorrow you shall find me a grave man.” (grave in this case means serious, but soon after Mercutio dies)

When Mercutio asks Romeo to dance, Romeo refuse. Unlike Mercutio’s shoes with “nimble soles”, Romeo says that he has a “soul of lead.”

Masterful!

So now that you know the true measure of puns, please enjoy this video of  2008 O’henry World Champion Punner! It sounds super nerdy, but it’s cool I promise!

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