Wordplay vs Pun: Difference and Comparison

Comedians, poets, and writers use many techniques to make their content interesting. Those techniques may not matter to the audience until they are not bored, but they play a very interesting role for the content providers or creators.

Those techniques play the soul of the act or performance, deciding most of the results.

Key Takeaways

  1. Wordplay is a broad term for the creative and humorous use of words, while a pun is a specific type that exploits the multiple meanings or similar sounds of words.
  2. Puns involve homophones, homonyms, or homographs to create humor, whereas wordplay encompasses a wider range of techniques, such as anagrams, palindromes, and spoonerisms.
  3. Both wordplay and puns can be found in literature, jokes, and everyday conversation, enriching language and communication.

Wordplay vs Pun

The difference between wordplay and puns is based on classification and their meaning. Wordplay is a method used to entertain people where words are the main tool and used to create some laughs which can entertain the people, whereas pun is a form of wordplay.

Wordplay vs Pun

Wordplay, also known as play-on-words, is a literary method and a type of brilliance wherein the words employed have already become a major subject of the work, mainly for the goal of effect or enjoyment.

Puns, auditory mix-ups like idiomatic phrases, cryptic words and interpretations, brilliant rhetorical explorations, weirdly formed phrases, double punch lines, and revealing new characters are all examples of wordplay.

The pun is a wordplay created by utilizing a term with many meanings or combining words with similar sounds but different meanings.

Writers utilize puns to generate a comic impact by exploiting word ambiguity. Puns come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWordplayPun
Definition according to WikipediaA similar sense of word or phrase or different senses of the same words is used to play.The pun is a type of wordplay.
As nounA collection of conversations where words are used for entertainment (witty conversation).A similar sense of a word or phrase or different senses of the same words is used to play.
SynonymsDouble entendres, witQuip, double meaning
UsageThe author uses the art of wordplay to provide an effect of positivity in their content.It is used to make a conversation interesting and entertaining.
VerbWordplay cannot be used as a verbTo beat or strike

What is Wordplay?

The clever and witty use of words and meaning is known as wordplay (or wordplay, also known as play-on-words).

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It entails forming entertaining and humorous written and oral statements utilizing literary devices and techniques such as consonance, assonance, spelling, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, acronym, pun, and slang (to mention a few).

The use of wordplay tactics draws on numerous parts of rhetoric, including spelling, phonetics (the sound and pronunciation of words), and semantics (the meaning of words) (meaning of words).

Most writers use wordplay to some level, although some writers are committed to or are excellent at using it as a main component of work. Shakespeare’s “quibbles” have earned him a reputation as a witty punster.

For his famed wordplay, P.G. Wodehouse was hailed by The Times for being a comic genius recognized as a classic and an old master. Another well-known wordsmith is James Joyce, author of Ulysses.

For example, Joyce’s statement “they were Yung and readily Freudened” in Finnegan Wake suggests “they were young and easily scared.” Still, the former also creates an effective pun on the names of two prominent psychoanalysts, Jung and Freud.

The use of wordplay goes well beyond jokes and humour. It makes the language more engaging, clever, and humorous than standard words and phrases. It may be found in the classics of literature and philosophy, from Plato to Shakespeare to Mark Twain, where it plays an important role in rhetoric.

Furthermore, it is an integral component of all languages and cultures worldwide, employed by individuals of all ages and outstanding authors, speakers, and storytellers. Kids start employing wordplay as soon as they start cracking jokes!

What is Pun?              

Puns, or paronomasia, are a type of wordplay in which various understanding of a word or same-sounding words is used for a  rhetorical effect or comic.

The purposeful use of metonymic, homographic, metaphorical, or homophonic l language might result in these difficulties. A pun differs from a malapropism; malapropism is an improper expression, but a pun is made up of expressions with many (right or reasonably acceptable) readings.

Puns are sometimes called inside jokes or idiomatic expressions because their meaning and usage are limited to a single language or culture.

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In-jokes and comic shows, puns are a basic source of humour. They’re frequently employed as the punch line of a joke. They add a twist to an otherwise story. Feghoots is another name for these.

The punchline is an example from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. However, it has far older Vaudeville roots.

The final line is a play on the phrase “lesser of two evils.” After Aubrey’s pun (to the delight of many), Dr Maturin responds, “One who would pun would pick a pocket.”

Puns appear repeatedly in the titles of parodies. A popular song”s parody, movie, or other work may be given a title that alludes to the title of the piece being parodied by substituting terms that sound or appear similar.

For example, collegiate Cappella groups are frequently called after musical puns to attract admirers. Such a title can immediately signal that what follows is a parody whose work is about to be parodied without the need for additional “set-up” (introduction).

Main Differences Between Wordplay and Pun

  1. Wordplay is a technique where words are the main focus and used to create amusing effects that entertain people, whereas pun is a form of wordplay.
  2. If these words are seen as nouns, Wordplay refers to a collection of amusing and interesting conversations, which is only possible with the help of wordplay. In contrast, the pun is a type of wordplay where the symmetry of sound or sense is used. Different senses of the same word can also be considered.
  3. The words which can be replaced by wordplay are wit or double entendres, whereas puns can be exchanged using quip or double meaning.
  4. If the example of wordplay is needed, we can consider the sentence, “The author uses wordplay to give an effect of positivity in the poem”. For Pun, the statement will be “To make a pun”.
  5. Wordplay word cannot be used as a verb, whereas a pun is used as a verb when it refers to beat or strike.
  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/HUMR.2011.012/html
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378216604002255

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Wordplay vs Pun: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It’s amazing to learn about the different forms of wordplay and puns, and how they are used for entertainment in literature, jokes and everyday conversation. This article has expanded my understanding.

    • Yes, it’s truly fascinating to think how wordplay and puns enrich language and communication, and are widely used by creators for a variety of purposes.

  2. I had no idea about the extensive influence of wordplay and puns in literature and day-to-day discourse. This article has certainly broadened my perspective.

  3. The article takes us on an intriguing journey through the cultural and literary importance of wordplay and puns, highlighting the genius behind these linguistic techniques.

    • Indeed, the linguistic brilliance of wordplay and puns has transformative effects on literature and everyday language, shaping the way we express and communicate.

  4. The article provides valuable insights on the distinctions between wordplay and puns, offering a detailed comparison of these literary techniques.

  5. This article made me realize how wordplay is used by so many renowned writers throughout history, from Shakespeare to Mark Twain, as an essential tool in literature. Puns are much more than just a figure of speech, they reveal excellency and wit.

  6. I found this article particularly enlightening on the history and cultural significance of wordplay and puns. It’s remarkable to see their impact on language and rhetoric.


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