Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of pun?

The definition of pun is a humorous phrase that plays on the multiple meanings of words.

Pun

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 102

Pun (also called paronomasia) - a play on words or the humorous use of a word emphasizing a different meaning or application. They have been called by some “the lowest form of humor.”

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The term comes from combining two Greek words: para, meaning “beside,” and onomasia, meaning “naming.”

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Puns have appeared in literature since Homer’s writings in the Eighth Century B.C.

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Latest answer posted February 17, 2007, 2:03 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

There is a famous pun uttered by Mercutio as he is dying in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

“Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”
Act III, scene i : lines 97 – 98


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