Guide to Literary Terms

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Pun

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.”

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

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

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