Pop Culture dictionary

no pun intended

[ noh puhn in-ten-did ]

What does no pun intended mean?

No pun intended is a humorous parenthetical comment used to acknowledge one has made a pun or other bit of overly cheesy or clever wordplay—sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not.

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"Happy Birthday" song

Related words

yo mama jokes, prank call, The Aristocrats, my mom, that’s what she said, I see what you did there, your mom, sofa king

Where does no pun intended come from?

Adding no pun intended as an aside dates back to at least the early 1800s. From its start, the expression had a playful quality, used by a writer or speaker when they’ve made some wordplay, whether a pun or other double entendre, that was right on the nose.

An early example comes from a mid-1800s story about an offending turkey described as “fowl play (‘no pun intended’).” The phrase spread in the 20th century. Beat author William S. Burroughs crassly employed it in a 1937 piece for Esquire, for example: “I’m proud of my mother. She’s 71 and she’s still expanding (mentally I mean—no pun intended).”

Examples of no pun intended

BRO why do my ROOMMATES like the room to feel like ANTARCTICA. I CANT FEEL MY HANDS. They still cool tho (no pun intended)
@darafitz27, August 22, 2018

New "spray" treatment (no pun intended) helps men last longer between the sheets

Coco Ballantyne, Scientific American (headline), April 10, 2009
The disastrous heat in the Arctic and rapidly melting ice is just the tip of the iceberg. No pun intended.
@ScottDuncanWX, July 25, 2020
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"Happy Birthday" song

Who uses no pun intended?

No pun intended is most often used, ironically enough, to call attention to a pun one has made. Often these puns are deliberate, corny, but too wonderfully dad joke-y to resist … and other times the puns are inadvertent but realized in the moment, too droll or drily humorous to let slip by without notice.

So, saying no pun intended often has the same effect as its opposite, pun intended.

Occasionally, people use no pun intended as if it means “no exaggeration,” a mistake likely due to the fact that no pun intended is a familiar stock phrase.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of no pun intended like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of no pun intended that will help our users expand their word mastery.