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90s Slang You Should Know


[puhn] /pʌn/
the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
the word or phrase used in this way.
verb (used without object), punned, punning.
to make puns.
Origin of pun
1655-65; perhaps special use of pun, variant (now dial.) of pound1, i.e., to mistreat (words)
Related forms
punless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pun
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A Vestal mustn't answer back or make a pun, no matter how good a chance she gets.

    The Unwilling Vestal Edward Lucas White
  • The sweetest cottage at twenty pun' a year as I ever set eyes on.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • If it's a pun you mean, and that we 're to have another bottle of the same, I second the motion.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly Charles James Lever
  • "Ye may have the dog for a pun'—I'll only ask you a pun'," and he walked away to the window.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • The author occasionally stoops to a pun, and, like that which Hood made in the hearing of Thackeray, the pun is not good.

    St. Ronan's Well Sir Walter Scott
British Dictionary definitions for pun


the use of words or phrases to exploit ambiguities and innuendoes in their meaning, usually for humorous effect; a play on words. An example is: "Ben Battle was a soldier bold, And used to war's alarms: But a cannonball took off his legs, So he laid down his arms." (Thomas Hood)
verb puns, punning, punned
(intransitive) to make puns
Word Origin
C17: possibly from Italian puntiglio point of detail, wordplay; see punctilio


verb puns, punning, punned
(transitive) (Brit) to pack (earth, rubble, etc) by pounding
Derived Forms
punner, noun
Word Origin
C16: dialectal variant of pound1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pun

1660s (first attested in Dryden), of uncertain origin, perhaps from pundigron, which is perhaps a humorous alteration of Italian puntiglio "equivocation, trivial objection," diminutive of Latin punctum "point." This is pure speculation. The verb also is attested from 1660s. Related: Punned; punning.

Pun was prob. one of the clipped words, such as cit, mob, nob, snob, which came into fashionable slang at or after the Restoration. [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pun in Culture

pun definition

A humorous substitution of words that are alike in sound but different in meaning (see double-entendre), as in this passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll:

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle, “nine the next, and so on.”
“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
“That's the reason they're called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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