What’s So Punny?

I love puns.


My deep admiration of puns comes from my Uncle Darv who was smart as hell and was a master of the pun. He could twist a word and follow it up with a hardy har har quicker than anyone I ever met.

So, growing up, I was a huge fun of what I thought was a “play on words,” a pun. That’s where I thought the word came from. It wasn’t until college that I learned form my English professor I was dead wrong. It wasn’t a bastardized anagram, nor did it originate from that phase.

Here’s the actual definition.

In fact, we can a bit further and get some etymology involved by looking at the terrific.  OUP (Oxford University Press’ blog)  The fabulous Anatoly Liberman breaks it down in this blog post form 2010 titled The Dubious History of Pun (Pun Among Other Pungent Words)

Here is an excerpt:

The date of the earliest citation of pun given in the first edition of the OED is 1669. Now a 1644 example is known. The word seems to have emerged some time around 1640. This date tallies with the fact that Abraham Cowley’s comedy The Guardian (acted 1641) has a character Mr. Puny described as “a young Gallant, a pretender to Wit.” In the revised version of the play (1661), the adjective Punish occurs, with reference to that gentleman’s kind of wit. Cowley does not use the word pun, and we do not know how the name and the adjective were pronounced. On paper, Puny and Punish look like puny “tiny” and the verb punish respectively. Both must have had punning connotations. Names of this type were popular in Cowley’s days. For instance, Goldsmith and Sheridan have Mr. Slang (unfortunately, no lines are assigned to him) and Mr. Fag (fag “servant”). 18th-century dictionaries feature pun, which they define as quibble, witty conceit, fancy, and clench. “Play on words” was also mentioned regularly, but the original connotation of pun seems to have been “an over-subtle distinction” (this is what clench, a side-form of clinch means), rather than what we today understand by it. In any case, the heaping up of meanings need not have been its initial sense. So let us forget bunk (with its possible etymon bunker), and see what pundits say on the subject.

This is why the English language is so terrific. .Things change, words morph, understandings evolve. This word is from back in 1640!!!

Ok, enough of the smarty-pants stuff. I’m fairly certain none of you will actually go read that full article (although you should). So, let’s get to the point.

If you love, puns, like I do, you should check out the Pun Generator

Just enter in a word and you’ll get a plethora of puns served to you. You’ll get the generated pun and then the origin of the phrase on the right. Obviously, it works better if you pick the right words.

It’s a bit hit or miss, but definitely do scroll down as there are some gems hidden in a very long list.
It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s freakin awesome.

For a sample I entered in a few words and here are my favorites”

Word: Shit  Pun: Shit the Ground Running Original: Hit the ground running.

Word: Blister Pun: Blister Christian Original: Sister Christian

I entered in Stjames (I usually have to delete the . and space) and I got

The Song Stjames the Same.

That’s my favorite.