Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
intr.v. punned, pun·ning, puns
To make puns or a pun.

[Origin unknown.]

pun′ning·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


Obsolete, the act of wordplay; punning. Also called agnomination, annomination.
the state or quality of being ambiguous in meaning or capable of double interpretation. — equivocal, adj.
1. an equivocal term or ambiguous expression.
2. a play upon words; pun.
1. Rhetoric. the use of a word in different senses or the use of words similar in sound for effect, as humor or ambiguity; punning.
2. a pun. — paronomastic, adj.
the study of puns and punning. — punnologist, n.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.punning - a humorous play on wordspunning - a humorous play on words; "I do it for the pun of it"; "his constant punning irritated her"
fun, sport, play - verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously); "he became a figure of fun"; "he said it in sport"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
He replied: They are like the punning riddles which are asked at feasts or the children's puzzle about the eunuch aiming at the bat, with what he hit him, as they say in the puzzle, and upon what the bat was sitting.
As easily as there may be stupidity in a man of genius if you take him unawares on the wrong subject, or as many a man who has the best will to advance the social millennium might be ill-inspired in imagining its lighter pleasures; unable to go beyond Offenbach's music, or the brilliant punning in the last burlesque.
In what follows, I examine how tutors can help students determine what constitutes "good pun usage" and explain some specific methods peer tutors can use to assist students in constructing punning critiques.
But while punning barely features in the repertoire of the modern comedian, the Elizabethan genius still gets away with them.
Is it because punning is reserved for the tilt-a-whirl
Interactional Aspects of Language-Based Humour in Shakespeare's Comedies: The Dynamics of Punning by Ladies-in-Waiting.
A member of the editorial board of the journal Oil Shale, one of the most remarkable natural scientists and science managers in the Baltic States, Tallinn University's professor of geoecology Jaan-Mati Punning passed away on November 21, 2009.
"I CHOOSE TROPICALIA not because it is liberal but because it is libertine." With this pithy turn of phrase, poet Torquato Neto put forth two of the Brazilian movement's most provocative claims: first, that it provided an ideological alternative to defensive nationalisms, both Left and Right, in late-'60s Brazil; and second, that this alternative was constructed on an aesthetics of punning and resignification, a revaluing of words and positions, a flipping of public platforms into playgrounds that would invert the so-called predicament of Brazil's tropical malaise into a vibrant cultural legacy called Tropicalia.
Pun is defined here after Delabastita (1993: 57) as a phenomenon depending for its existence on the juxtaposition of (at least two) similar/identical forms and (at least two) dissimilar meanings, where, broadly speaking, the subtler the formal contrast and the sharper the semantic one, the finer the punning effect.
This sort of punning went on even during the hardest times of Stalinism, giving people a chance to express their true feelings and helping them to survive.
And can the warring factions-those who love punning on the one hand, those who detest it with a passion on the other-ever be truly reconciled?
The pun thus explains the fragment: Phrynichus' reaction to Syrakosios' decree demonstrates the principle, power, and playful impudence of punning onomastic satire.