Can’t find playful pun examples to add some humor and spice to your writing?
Puns can be both common, yet sensical, with a bit of confusion mixed in. The brilliance of the memorable comes in the ‘aha’ moment that they provide.
Comedian George Carlin once said “Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”
Whether it’s half full or half empty, let’s fill your cup with some playful punnery and palpable examples.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Pun?
Did you hear about the guy who did a theatrical performance about puns? It was a play on words.
And there, in essence, is your definition of a pun. The double entendre. A form of word play. A literary device that relies on ambiguity and alternative meanings to create a humorous effect.
Now that we’ve covered the basic definition, let’s look at the most common types.
Pun Intended: 3 Types of Puns To Use in Your Creative Writing
There are different types of puns, but the 3 most popular are homophonic, homographic, and compound puns.
Homophonic Puns create playfulness by using words that sound the same but have multiple meanings.
In the phrase, “you can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish,” the word(s) “tune a” and “tuna” are used interchangeably, yet the definitions are different. ‘Son’ and ‘sun ‘ or ‘rain’ and ‘reign’ are other examples.
A Homographic Pun uses words that are spelled the same but have completely different meanings.
When used as a noun, the word ‘fly’ refers to the insect. As a verb it means taking flight. Lest not forget, fly can also refer to the zipper area of your pants.
Compound Puns are sentences that contain more than one pun. These create both literal and figurative meanings to the same phrase.
An example of this is “Obtuse angles are often depressed because they are never right.”
Now, let’s dive into why you came here…
17+ Pun Examples That Will Get You on the Write Track
For a pun to truly work it must have balance between obviousness and confusion. If it is too obvious, it will lack humor. One that is too confusing will have the reader scratching their head till it hurts.
Let’s have some fun and delve into 17+ examples.
Pun Stuff: Examples of Puns From Everyday Life
1. I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
Subtle, with a bit of common sense and confusion sprinkled in. The aha moment comes in the double meaning of ‘can’t put it down’.
Figuratively, you know how hard it is to put a captivating book down. Literally, without gravity the book will float as you try to put it down.
2. This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore
With a pronunciation change to the ‘h’ in “herbivore,” you now have a different meaning to the word.
In the context of an unrecognizable person at a vegetarian club, this slight modification is the sauce that gives this pun its spice.
3. Broken pencils are pointless.
This example draws on the double meaning of pointless.
Structurally, a broken pencil will not write.
Functionally, a pencil without a tip serves no purpose.
“Stick Around” for Fun Pun Examples From Movies
4. “If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it”
Many animated movies use puns to create humor. In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the clock character Cogsworth is talking to Mrs Potts and the candle Limiere.
In the background is a Baroque Vermeer painting to which he drops the imaginative “if it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.”
5. “I think he got the point”
In the movie Thunderball, Sean Connery’s James Bond battles a pistol-brandishing bad guy. Bond finds a spear gun, and shoots the villain.
Seeing the villain lodged against a tree, Bond turns to his companion and says “I think he got the point.”
6. “And don’t call me Shirley”
This classic example comes from the 1980 comedy Airplane. Leslie Nielson’s character Dr. Rumack asks war veteran turned taxi driver Ted Striker, “Can you fly this plane, and land it?”
Striker replies, “Surely you can’t be serious.”
With dry wit and expert timing, Nielsen delivers the unforgettable “I am serious….and don’t call me Shirley!”
Amusingly Simple Pun Examples To Inspire Your Writing
7. I wondered why the ball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Ouch. The double entendre moment of this clever pun is the dual meaning of ‘then it hit me.’ Literally, the ball appeared to grow in size because it was getting closer. Figuratively, the idea ‘hit’ him that the ball grew because it was getting close – at which point it was too late.
8. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery
Popularized by test pilots, the idiom ‘pushing the envelope’ is another way of saying testing limits. While the envelope we often refer to can be purchased at an office supply store, the double meaning of this compound pun creates a priceless pun example.
9. I wanted to buy camouflage pants, but I couldn’t find any
Finding anything that blends in with its surroundings can be difficult, never mind a pair of camouflaged pants. You see, really good camouflage is hard to find.
Not Your Everyday English Class: Light-Hearted Pun Examples for Students
10. If you are ever in the market for a large boat or an ark, I Noah guy.
Perhaps you “know-a” guy that could build you a large boat or ark?
With a slight change in the pronunciation of the word “Noah” this homophonic pun creates some chuckle and confusion.
11. I’m thinking about becoming a doctor, but I’m worried I don’t have enough patience
The dual meaning of the word patience is the double entendre moment of this pun. A doctor without ‘patience’ risks losing a lot of customers. Likewise, a doctor without ‘patients’ will lose money and be out of practice.
On that note, also, remember that it takes some guts to be an organ donor.
12. I’m great friends with 25 letters of the alphabet. I don’t know Y.
There are two letters in the English alphabet that can double as homophonic questions; ‘R’ or ‘are’ and ‘Y’ or ‘why”.
This playful pun subtracts the ‘Y’ from its list of friends. The double entendre rationale; lack of reason and/or unfamiliarity.
Pun Examples in Literature That Would Make Oscar Wilde Chuckle
13. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
Though it is difficult to trace its true origins, Mark Twain is often credited with this popular pun. The interchangeable pronunciation of ‘De-Nial’ makes this homographic pun both amusing and ingenious.
While ‘the Nile” is a river in Egypt, this pun adds a clever twist to the inability to acknowledge truth or recognize facts.
14. ‘Mine is a long and a sad tale!’ said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing. ‘It is a long tail, certainly,’ said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail; ‘but why do you call it sad?”
It is easy to see why Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, was confused.
In verbal conversation, was the mouse talking about his physical tail or life story?
By playfully intermingling ‘tale’ and ‘tail’, Lewis Carroll created a clever pun that has stood the test of time.
15. “Ask for me tomorrow, you shall find me a grave man.”
This bit of wordplay comes from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. After the character Mercutio is stabbed, he turns to Romeo and utters those ‘grave’ words.
Did he mean grave, as in serious danger? Or, was the wound fatal and he’s heading for an early grave?
William Shakespeare also applied his love of puns to other plays, including Richard iii. In the line “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York”, he uses the double meaning of the word ‘son’ to create a sense of bemusement.
Terrible Puns and Dad Jokes That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head
16. The dyslexic man walks into a bra
Dyslexia is characterized by a difficulty in learning to read. This pun makes great use of the rarerangement (we know) of letters in the word bar.
The man who couldn’t spell thought he was walking into a bar. What this story leaves out is that he was later kicked for spitting in the tips jar 🙂.
17. What did the buffalo say to his son when he left home? Bison
As a father, this joke guarantees an eye roll from my daughter every time.
With a creative change in the pronunciation of the word ’bison’, we go from an animal to bidding adieu to a child.
It’s a good thing he’s got thick skin.
18. A chicken crossing the road is truly poultry in motion
Though not quite a true homophone, substituting poultry for poetry gives this pun example some confusion and playfulness.
While not known for their poetry in motion, chickens have been the subject of many creative puns.
Add Some Playful Pun Examples To Leave Your Mark
Adding some creative pun examples is a great way to reinvigorate your writing.
Oscar Wilde once said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
The same can be said about writing.
Don’t allow your writing to merely exist. Add some witty and playful puns to it.
It’s a great way to bring your writing to life!