So the other day I was chatting with one of my best friends and she sent me a link with loads of beautifully illustrated puns in English. Along with the link, she wrote: “There you go, for your blog!”. And boooooy, was she right! It is not rare to find illustrated puns nowadays, given the rise of memes a few years ago. However, although they can still be just as funny, most of them are not professionally illustrated. For this reason, I absolutely love it when I come across a collection of English puns with fabulous illustrations, so I can’t help sharing them with you guys.
- What are “puns”?
- Puns in English
What are “puns”?
That being said, for those of you who can’t remember what puns are, let me enlighten you. According to Oxford Dictionaries, a pun is
a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.
I already wrote an introduction to puns in a very old post “Things Are Getting Punny“, in case you want to check it out before reading on. But for those of you who are already familiar with puns, let’s begin with these 15 puns that will keep you smiling this week. What I’ll do is list the punny pictures with a related title, and explain the pun below each image. I know that explaining jokes is a bit of a putoff, but I believe it necessary in this case for learning purposes. Let’s get on with this!
Puns in English
1. Feeling unwell
Explanation: Pail vs pale: while “pale” means that your face is whiter than usual, like when you’re feeling unwell, “pail” is simply a synonym of “bucket”, which is an object that you normally use to carry water or some other liquid.
2. A special kind of dinosaur
Explanation: Thesaurus: a “thesaurus” is a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts. You can check out an online thesaurus here.
3. A curious alligator
Explanation: In + vest + gator: an “gator” or “alligator” is an animal similar to a crocodile. A “vest” is the garment that the alligator is wearing in the picture. An “investigator” is a person who carries out inquiries or investigations, like a detective.
4. What a party!
Explanation: Planet vs Plan it: the word “planet” is almost identically pronounced as the combination “plan it”. So how do you plan a space party (space = where planets are)? You planet! haha
5. Poor cow!
Explanation: Ground vs Ground (past participle of grind) + beef: so “beef” is what we usually call the flesh of a cow, bull or ox as food. A way of preparing this meat is to “mince” or “grind” it, which means to cut it or crush it into tiny pieces. The past participle of “grind” is “ground”, as in the surface of the Earth. So a cow that can’t stand up and is always on the ground, having no legs, is ground beef. Poor thing!
6. Goldfish go to war
Explanation: Tank (war tank) vs tank (fish tank): goldfish are a the typical fish we keep at home in fish tanks. The funny thing here is that they are in a proper war tank rather than in a regular fish tank. And they have no idea what to do now, apparently.
7. A talkative potato
Explanation: Everyday vs common vs comment / potato vs commentator: in this case we have an analogy between the pronunciations of “common” and “comment”, which are quite similar. Also, there’s the closeness in meaning between “everyday”(adj.) and “common”. Finally, there’s the fact that “tater” is an informal way of saying “potato”, and happens to be pronounced the same as the ending “-tator”.
8. A working frog
Explanation: Hop vs jump vs bellhop (job): one of the things we know about frogs is that they can jump or “hop”, which is a synonym. As for “bellhop”, it is a synonym of “bellboy”, which refers to a person who works in a hotel performing services such as carrying guests’ luggage.
9. Going vegetarian
Explanation: Missed steak vs mistake: this pun exploits the similarity in pronunciation between the words “missed steak”, as in missing (=wanting but not having) a steak (=a kind of meat slice), and “mistake” (=doing something wrong).
10. Who’s faster?
Explanation: Cheetah vs cheater / lion vs lying: in this picture there are two puns. The first one is that of “you cheetah” (cheetah, the animal) and “you (are a) cheater” (cheater, someone who cheats to win). The second one is that of “you lion” (lion, the animal) and “you (are) lying” (lying, not telling the truth). Both “cheetah” and “cheater” sound the same, while “lion” and “lying” sound very similar. That, plus the fact that they are actually a lion and a cheetah, makes the pun funny.
11. A cool magician
Explanation: Hoodini vs Houdini: in English we represent the call of owls as “hoo”, an onomatopoeia. This sounds exactly the same as the first syllable in “Houdini”, the surname of one of the greatest magicians and escape artists of all time.
12. Cloudy clothes
Explanation: Thunder vs under: “thunder”, as you probably know, is the loud rumbling or crashing noise heard after a lightning flash. Except for the “th-“/θ/, both “thunder” and “under” are pronounced the same. That similarity, and the fact that both clouds and thunder are weather-related words, make the pun here.
13. A lazy kangaroo
Explanation: Pouch vs couch: while a “pouch” is a pocket-like bag that marsupials (e.g. wallabies, kangaroos, etc.) have in order to carry their babies, a “couch” is a sofa. The expression “couch potato” refers to a person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television. So the pun here comes about when we notice the similar pronunciations of “couch” and “pouch”.
14. Off to college!
Explanation: Bison vs Bye, son: a “bison” is another word used for “buffalo”, although technically they are not the same species. The pronunciation of “bison” is very similar to “bye, son!”, as in saying goodbye to your son who is going to college.
Explanation: Gum (as in chewing gum) vs gum (flesh around teeth): a “gummy bear” is a famous kind of candy like the one drawn above, isn’t it? They are called “gummy” because of the substance they are made of, resembling proper gum. However, another meaning of “gum” is the flesh in our mouths to which teeth are attached. For this reason, a bear without teeth would be a gummy bear.
My friend sent me these puns through 9GAG, an awesome site where you can find great memes and other interesting illustrations. You can download most of these memes as one single picture here, but they were all illustrated by arseniic, so go to her profile on DeviantArt and check out more of her illustrations and plenty more punny pictures. They’re great!
Also, read more puns here, with explanations in Spanish: juegos de palabras en inglés.
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