Puns are a form of word play which take advantage of words, or similar sounding words, with multiple meanings, often to create a humorous situation or joke. Puns can sometimes be created unintentionally, in which case the saying ‘no pun intended’ is used. Read on and check out some funny examples.
Puns and Shakespeare are like peas in a pod. Like other Elizabethans, Will delighted in playing with words and in making puns upon any occasion. In reading Shakespeare you must become alert to his clever use of words that have the same sound but different meanings. For he uses not only puns to make us smile and laugh, but also to make us see interesting relationships between quite separate things.
In the following exercises the punning words are in italics. See if you can find two or more meanings for each italicized. (You may have to look up some words to find an old meaning that makes part of the pun.)
The lines in the sample quotation are taken from a funeral song for a dead princess, young and beautiful. Shakespeare compares the death of the princess to the death of a poor chimney sweep who was kept small and underfed by a cruel master so that the sweep could wriggle into the narrow brick chimneys of the city of London to clean them.
Example: Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers, come to dust
Rich people, like all others, die and become dust.
Chimney sweeps come to dust out the chimneys.1. Armando: I do adore thy sweet Grace’s slipper.
Boyet:(Aside) Loves her by the foot.[Love’s Labor’s Lost]
[ A Midsummer Night’s Dream]
4. What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
[ Romeo and Juliet ]
5. Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
6. And as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper.
I would not wish them to a fairer death. [Macbeth]
[ Twelfth Night ]
7. A trade, sir, that I hope may use with safe conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles. [ Julius Caesar ]
Find three other puns online, or maybe you know some of your own?. Write them down and share them in class.