Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


see also puns, figures of speech

(a) the action of playing with words; witty use of words, esp. of verbal ambiguities;  (b) an instance of this, a play on words; a pun. (Oxford English Dictionary)


Verbal wit based on the meanings and ambiguities of words; puns, clever repartee, etc  (Collins English Dictionary via

Word play or wordplay (also: play-on-words) is a literary technique and a form of wit in which the words that are used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement. Examples of word play include puns, phonetic mix-ups such as spoonerisms, obscure words and meanings, clever rhetorical excursions, oddly formed sentences, double entendres, and telling character names (such as in the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Ernest being a given name that sounds exactly like the adjective earnest). (Wikipedia)