Warning: The examples contain some offensive words, but I believe that is not against the rules here?

Lately I've been listening a lot to a certain hip-hop album, in which almost every track uses a certain lyrical device a lot. Instead of trying to describe it further than I already do in the title, I'll go straight to examples.

  • I've got bars for days, like a custody cell.

    Source. The rapper is talking about two different types of bars. First his raps, then the physical bars of a jail cell.

  • Every fucking album is banging like a Tinder-match

    Source. He says his albums are "banging" as in musically pleasing, but in the sense of the Tinder-match, the word means sexual intercourse.

  • I jam like a bullet stuck in the barrel

    Source. When he says he jams, he means musically, while the bullet is physically jammed in the barrel.

  • My woman puts on the rubber faster than a pit stop

    Source. In the first sense he means a condom, in the second sense he means rubber tyres on a Formula 1 car.

  • I'm harder to hit than a porcupine pussy.

    Source. In the first sense he means "hit" as in some sort of attack or aggressive action, in the second sense he means sexual intercourse.

  • I stay in the hood like Kenny

    Source. In his own case, he means his neighbourhood, as in the slang term "hood". In the latter sense he is talking about hood as the part of a jacket that covers the head, referring to the fictional character from South Park who always wears a hood.

I think that amount of examples (there are countless more from the album, and from other rappers as well) is enough to convey what I mean.

What is the name of this lyrical device? I believe it is somewhat common in Hip Hop, and has been for decades. Does it have a name outside of Hip Hop as well, perhaps in poetry or literature?

  • This has been around since well before Shakespeare: lies like a rug, sleeps like a top, as mellow as a Pippin at Michaelmas
    – Peter Shor
    Dec 12, 2020 at 16:31
  • @PeterShor In this example, "lie" is used both in the sense of telling falsehood, and of lying down flat on the floor? In what sens is "sleep" being used in, in terms of a top? And what other sense does mellow have?
    – Fiksdal
    Dec 12, 2020 at 17:03
  • The double meanings in these plays on words are no longer used. A top was said to be sleeping when it was spinning and yet perfectly still. And in the 16th century, mellow meant both ripe (as a Pippin apple at Michaelmas) and drunk. (If you followed the links, you would get explanations.)
    – Peter Shor
    Dec 12, 2020 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


That rhetorical device is called zeugma. Merriam-Webster defines zeugma as follows:

the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one (as in "opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy").

Yourdictionary.com provides several examples.

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