Puns Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Where did the greatest pun writer of all time live? Pun'sylvania! Read on to find out all about puns and how to write puns. Warning: You'll also be reading lots of puns, so be prepared to laugh out loud!

Punstoppable Puns

A pun is also called a 'play on words.' Some words sound alike or have more than one meaning, and so sometimes we can put them together to say something funny. That's a pun. Speakers and authors use puns to make the audience or readers laugh.

Types of Puns

There are several different types of puns. Each one takes advantage of a different type of word play.

Homophonic Puns

Homophonic puns use homophones, or words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. For example, the words pain and pane are homophones. They sound the same, but they don't mean the same thing and they are spelled differently.

Here is a pun that uses words that sound alike to make it funny:

  • Where do polar bears vote? The North Poll!

(Here, 'poll,' a place to vote, is used in place of 'pole.')

  • I am a baker because I knead the dough.

(Here, 'knead the dough,' is used in place of 'need the dough,' a phrase that means 'need money.')

That is very punny!

Homographic Puns

Homographic puns use homographs to make them funny. Homographs are words that look the same but have different meanings. Sometimes homographs are also pronounced differently. For example, the word post means to mail a letter and the word post also means a pole that is part of a fence.

These puns uses homographs to make you laugh:

  • In the winter my dog wears his coat, but in the summer he wears his coat and pants.

(The homographic words in this pun are 'coat' and 'pants.' A 'coat' can be a dog's fur or a coat that a person wears to stay warm. 'Pants' can refer to clothing or to when a dog pants when it's overheated.)

  • A bicycle can't stand on its own because its two-tired.

(Here, 'two-tired' is used in place of 'too tired,' as in being too tired to stand.)

Compound Puns

A compound pun includes two puns. It's like two jokes put together! Here is an example of a compound pun:

  • You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish. Unless you play bass.

(In this pun, it is funny to say 'tuna fish' instead of 'tune a fish.' The second part of the pun is a homographic pun. The word 'bass' can be pronounced like 'base,' which means a low sound. It can also be pronounced like 'grass,' in which case 'bass' means a kind of fish.)

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