I. What is Wordplay?

Wordplay (or word play, and additionally called play-on-words) is the clever and also witty use of words and also meaning. It requires using literature devices and also techniques prefer consonance, assonance, spelling, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, acronym, pun, and also slang (to name a few) to kind amusing and often humorous written and also oral expressions. Utilizing wordplay approaches relies on several different aspects of rhetoric, like spelling, phonetics (sound and pronunciation of words), and semantics (meaning of words).

You are watching: What is a play on words called

II. Instances of Wordplay

Here room some an easy jokes that usage wordplay for your humor:

Q: What go the ram say come his wife?

A: ns love ewe.

Puns are few of the most generally used creates of wordplay. Here, when talked aloud, “I love ewe” sounds favor “I love you.” But, the word “ewe” is the term because that a woman sheep.

Q: What walk the mayonnaise say as soon as the girl opened the refrigerator?

A: near the door, ns dressing!

This joke depends on two meanings of words “dressing” for its humor—one because that “dressing” as in placing on clothes, and one for mayonnaise gift a type of salad “dressing.”

III. Wordplay Techniques

Here we will summary some major wordplay techniques. However, this represents only a tiny selection; in truth, the really list contains hundreds of techniques!

a. Acronym

Acronyms room abbreviations the terms developed by using components or letters of the initial words, prefer saying “froyo” instead of frozen yogurt or “USA” for United says of America. The use of abbreviation is increasingly typical in our society today—both formal and informal—and has actually risen in popularity over the past decade as text massage has end up being commonplace (think of BRB and also TTYL!). We use acronyms for all kinds the things, though—for example, the current news about an excellent Britain’s departure from the europe Union has come to be described as “Brexit,” combining components of the indigenous “Britain” and also “Exit.”

b. Alliteration

Alliteration is a method expressed by repeating the same very first consonant sound in a series of words. You’re most likely pretty familiar with this device, as it is a distinguishing feature of many nursery rhymes and also tongue twisters. Because that example, “Peter Piper choose a peck that pickled peppers.”

c. Assonance and also Consonance

Assonance is the equivalent of collection sounds in language, when consonance is the matching of consonant sounds. These methods can produce some very catchy and also interesting wordplay.

Assonance create a rhyming effect, because that example, “the fool dubbed a duel v a mule.” Consonance has a pleasing sound, for example, “the shells she shucks room delicious.”

d. Dual Entendre

Double entendre is the dual interpretation the a native or phrase, with the secondary an interpretation usually being funny or risqué. Naturally, twin entendres depend on wordplay for their success, since the native used have a literal and also a figurative meaning. For example, if you stated “The baker has good buns,” it can be construed in 2 ways!

e. Idiom

Idioms space popular, culturally interpreted phrases that generally have a figurative meaning. The English language alone is stated to have an ext than 25,000 idioms. Typical examples are practically endless, yet to surname a few, “it’s raining cats and also dogs,” “butterflies in mine stomach,” “catch a cold,” “rise and shine,” and also “chill out” room some idioms the you probably hear every day.

f. Malapropism

Malapropism is incorrect use of a word or phrase once you typical to use an additional word or expression that sound similar. Because that example, ~ above Modern Family, Gloria says “Don’t provide me one old tomato” instead of “Don’t provide me an ultimatum

g. Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia room words the phonetically imitate sounds. Some typical examples room boom, achoo, pow, whoosh, bam, tick-tock, click, meow, woof, tweet, and ribbit, just to name a few.

h. Pun

A pun is the ultimate kind of wordplay and probably the most popular and also widely used. In fact, numerous would specify it together wordplay in general! Puns provides multiple meanings and the comparable sounds of indigenous to produce a feeling affect. For example, “love at very first bite” is a food pun for the idiom “love at very first sight,” or, “spilling that glue made a actual sticky situation!” provides glue’s key property (stickiness) to do a joke the end of the typical phrase “sticky situation,” which means a an overwhelming situation.

i. Spelling

Using spelling because that wordplay is a tricky yet fun an approach that clear works finest when you have the right to see that in created form. One an excellent example is the web-sensation pig “Chris P. Bacon,” whose name sounds prefer “Crispy Bacon”!

j. Rhyming

As you probably know rhyming is the matching and also repetition the sounds. It’s particularly popular form of wordplay for poetry, nursery rhymes, and also children’s literature because of that is catchy and also rhythmic style. There space all various rhyme schemes that writers use, from rhyming every indigenous to just rhyming the an initial or last word of a line. For example, Roses room red/Violets are blue/ street is sweet/ and also so are you! complies with the scheme ABCB.

k. Slang

Slang is the use of casual and unique language and expressions, and varies depending on age, location, ar of occupational or study, and also many other factors. Localized slang and also pop culture lingo frequently rely on wordplay for meaning, and also are often filled v idioms (see above).

IV. Importance of Wordplay

Wordplay’s usage extends far beyond jokes and humor. It provides language more unique, much more interesting, and much more witty and also amusing 보다 using traditional words and phrases. It has had an essential role in rhetoric going together far back as the standards of literature and philosophy, from Plato to Shakespeare to note Twain. Those more, that is a huge component of every languages and also cultures around the globe, supplied not just by talented writers, speakers, and storytellers, however by all human being of all ages. As soon as children start telling jokes, they beginning using wordplay!

V. Examples of Wordplay in Literature

Example 1

Everybody to know Dr. Seuss for his fully unique wordplay and rhymes. Often a bit nutty, his stories are one-of-a-kind with an innovative and often totally strange language. While many authors would select words to fit their rhyme schemes, Dr. Seuss regularly just makes up new words altogether. Here’s an instance from a book you probably know an extremely well, One Fish 2 Fish Red Fish Blue Fish:

At our home we open up cans.

We have to open countless cans.

And the is why we have actually a Zans.

A Zans for cans is an extremely good.

Have you a Zans for cans?

You should.

Here, Dr. Seuss necessary a creature that rhymes with the word “cans,” so he decided to develop one called a “Zans.” You can see the author’s wordplay plainly here—he uses not only made-up words, but rhyming together well; the signature Dr. Seuss style!

Example 2

Shakespeare was a master of language and also wordplay, and his puns are particularly well known. Here’s an instance from Romeo and also Juliet:

Mercutio: Nay, tenderness Romeo, we must have you dance.”

Romeo: Not I, believe me. You have actually dancing shoes

With nimble soles; I have actually a heart of lead

So comb me to the ground ns cannot move.”

 Here, Romeo supplies wordplay come speak around both dancing and his broken heart. First, he refers to Mercurio’s shoes’ “nimble soles,” but says the himself has actually a “soul that lead”—this way he both has a heavy heart, but additionally shoe soles of lead would “stake” him to the soil so that he “cannot move,” do it impossible to dance.

Example 3

In Harry Potter and also the Half-Blood Prince, the Weasley pair Fred and George open their very own magic joke shop. Some of the advertisements because that their assets use some pretty funny wordplay, prefer this:

Why space You Worrying around You-Know-Who?

You should Be Worrying around

U-NO-POO —

the Constipation emotion That’s Gripping the Nation!

In the series, the angry Lord Voldemort is sometimes called You-Know-Who because it’s considered poor luck come speak his real name. Here, Fred and also George do a risky joke about Voldemort by referring to that in their advertisement for a trick candy that causes constipation. They use rhyming lines v assonance, and also the pun “You-No-Poo” to do their advertisement comedic and appealing to fellow jokesters.

See more: What Is The Name Of The Molecular Compound Cbr4 ? Carbon Tetrabromide

 

VI. Examples in famous Culture

Example 1

The comic publication style TV collection iZOMBIE is filled v comedic wordplay around brains and also zombie life. In fact, even the protagonist’s name, “Liv Moore,” is a play-on-words (she “lives more” also though she is a zombie). Some of the many notable instances the wordplay come in the chapter titles, i beg your pardon each attribute a pun based upon a combo of popular culture references and brains. Below are some examples from the illustration “Even Cowgirls get the Black and also Blues,” i beg your pardon is a pun, too!

Pawn the the Dead

This chapter titles renders a pun the end of the popular horror flick “Dawn of the Dead” as Liv and also her partner enter a pawn shop.

Weapons that Glass Destruction

This chapter title provides a pun the end of “Weapons of massive Destruction.”

Seattle PDA

This thing title, picturing Liv’s cop partner and also member that the Seattle Police department (Seattle PD) makes the pun “Seattle PDA.”

Example 2

In Winnie the Pooh, Pooh regularly confuses the sound of words v their genuine meaning. In this clip, Owl is using words “issue,” and Pooh soon thinks he has a cold…