33 votes
Accepted

What is the pun in Kipling's poem "The Three-Decker"?

These are puns on the names of tourist agencies and operators. Ways no gaze could follow has the double meaning: routes that go beyond the horizon (or otherwise out of sight); routes that are not ...
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  • 40.2k
31 votes

Is Casanunda a reference in "Witches Abroad"?

Casanunda is a pun on Casanova, changing "over" to "under" (because he's short): [Casanova] has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that ...
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  • 7,942
26 votes
Accepted

"My father declared he should invent a slip button"

The Kentucky Age for 10th February 1857 contains a short story which opens as follows: A celebrated wit once said he had found out a patent “slip button,” so that when a bore laid hold of him, and ...
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  • 40.2k
26 votes
Accepted

What is Asimov's joke in "Death of a Foy"?

It took me a second to get it; you have to say it out loud. When you do, you might hear a bit of a familiar melody come to mind. He's playing off the lyrics to George M. Cohan's "Give My Regards to ...
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  • 1,325
22 votes
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No mayonnaise in Ireland?

The phrase comes from a story by humorist Will Stanton that appeared in the May 1971 issue of Reader's Digest. The narrator claims that he is subject to "a kind of slip-of-the-ear," leading ...
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  • 15.3k
18 votes
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What does "Maybe it's a Big Horse I'm Morporkian" mean?

It is a pun on ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’, a song written to boost morale during World War II, by Hubert Gregg, but made famous by Flanagan and Allan as an expression of pride in London. The ...
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  • 15.7k
17 votes

What does "Maybe it's a Big Horse I'm Morporkian" mean?

It was a 'knock-knock' joke in the 1960s, when everyone knew the song. Person 1: Knock knock. Person 2: Who's there? Person 1: M.A.B. is a big horse. Person 2: M.A.B. is a big horse who? Person 1: [...
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13 votes

What is Asimov's joke in "Death of a Foy"?

This is called a feghoot: a story that builds up to a pun for its punchline. Asimov seems to have had a fondness for feghoots, as he did this in several stories: "Loint of Paw", about a criminal who ...
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  • 455
13 votes
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How does the old norse kenning 'nausta blakks hlé-mána gífrs drífu gim-slöngvir' break down into 'warrior'

It unpacks as follows: nausta blakks ‘steed of boathouses’ = ship hlémána ‘protecting moon’ of the ship = shield gífr ‘terror’ of the shield = sword drífa ‘storm’ of the sword = battle gim ‘fire’ of ...
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  • 40.2k
10 votes
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Shakespeare King Henry IV Part 1: What is the "money joke" in these lines?

The joke relies on knowledge of old English coinage. A Noble was worth six shillings and eight pence, or eighty pence, which was 1/3 of a pound sterling (£), the pound being at that time worth 240 ...
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  • 15.7k
9 votes
Accepted

Who are The Sixteen Sexophonists in Brave New World?

Possibly the more important word play is the part of the band name which you missed out. The full name is 'Calvin Stopes and his Sixteen Sexophonists'. In 1918 and 1919 Marie Stopes published two ...
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  • 15.7k
8 votes
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What does 'diope' mean in the poem 'Pediatric Reflection' by Ogden Nash?

Ogden Nash was fond of the humorous effect created by employing a rhyme that only works if you distort the pronunciation of one of the words, an effect that he signalled by a deliberate mis-spelling. ...
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  • 40.2k
7 votes

What is the pun in Fowles' The Magus?

It's a double pun on immaculate conception and general. The Roman Catholic dogma of immaculate conception says that Mary is free from original sin right from the moment of her conception. The narrator ...
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  • 15.3k
5 votes
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What is meant by the word "cumfarting" in the 1742 English novel "Joseph Andrews"?

This is not an obscenity about "climaxing" or "passing gas." It's a phonetic rendering of what was then spoken English. For instance, the sexual meaning of "come" is a modern usage dating back to the ...
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  • 421
5 votes

What does Thomas More try to do with Greek puns in Utopia?

tl;dr More's wordplay both creates a world and undercuts it. It allows More to tell an entirely plausible story with a straight face while simultaneously signaling that the story is false. It forms ...
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  • 15.3k
5 votes

What does Holofernes deer epitaph from Love's Labour's Lost mean?

It's entirely possible that Thomas Nashe wrote this passage, which would account for its dated references. Hunting deer was a sport for the upper class in Shakespeare's England, with its own ...
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  • 1,139
4 votes

Was the pun on the word 'reading' intentional in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"?

In my own multiple (and recent) readings of the complete novels and stories of Sherlock Holmes, I see Holmes noted for a direct, rather dry style of verbal delivery. Watson, the narrator in this ...
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  • 468
3 votes

What does Holofernes deer epitaph from Love's Labour's Lost mean?

"Sore" also means "deer". From "Sport on Dartmoor", 1895, reprinted in Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art: The Fallow-deer, ...
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  • 4,898
3 votes

Is "and if I'm flying solo" a pun in "Defying Gravity"?

There's definitely an argument made that you can interpret it that way, and I think there's good reason too. From the lyrics, there seems to be an emphasis of "my way or the highway" sort of ...
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3 votes
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Where is the wordplay in the names Zhao Guiweng and Gu Jiu?

INTRODUCTION TO THE CHINESE NAME The American-Based StackExchange Network ranks below Quora in Alexa. Quora receives a lot of traffic, including traffic from native Chinese speakers with professional ...
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  • 269
2 votes

What is the significance of the name "Kopy-Keck" in The Light Princess?

Given that MacDonald was a proud Scotsman and that he often used the Scots language/dialect in his books, a perusal of a dictionary may prove useful. Here is part of what The Dictionary of the Scots ...
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2 votes

What is the significance of the name "Kopy-Keck" in The Light Princess?

The essay Jesting in Earnest by Daniel Gabelman, included in the book Re-Embroidering the Robe: Faith, Myth and Literary Creation since 1850 seems to imply the pun in the name may be "Copy Kant". Here'...
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  • 14.7k
2 votes
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What does Holofernes deer epitaph from Love's Labour's Lost mean?

Below is the text as given in the First Folio: The prayfull Princesse pearst and prickt a prettie pleasing Pricket, Some say a Sore, but not a sore, till now made sore with shooting. The Dogges did ...
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  • 38.5k
2 votes

Was the pun on the word 'reading' intentional in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"?

I think that the Sherlock Holmes canon is, in fact, loaded with puns. Two of my favorites are: In "The Engineer's Thumb", the word "sponge" is used first to describe the engineer'...
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