Archive for Puns

Fruit on wheels

As for this tropical fruit: it lived a long and happy life. When it retired, it faced a quandary: it loved its house, but it also loved to travel. In the end, it put wheels on the house and traveled all over the place, having many wonderful adventures. And that’s the story of this old […]


My father told me a joke a couple of times when I was a kid that I could never entirely reconstruct later. I just found a version of it in a 1908 O. Henry story, “The Man Higher Up.” Partway through the story, a man named Alfred E. Ricks has been selling land in Florida […]

edifice complex

I thought I just heard US Rep Donna Shalala (D-FL) say on NPR that Donald Trump has an Oedipus complex. It gradually became clear that what she had actually said was “edifice complex”—which is pretty clever, but perhaps not a great choice of phrase for radio, where a slightly staticky signal could easily result in […]


Gneiss is one of those words that I have a hard time not making jokes about. I’m in the midst of labeling my photos from a 2014 trip to the British Museum. In most cases, I took a photo of a piece of art and then took a photo of the nearby explanatory card, but […]

Double garden path

Turns out that although I mentioned garden-path sentences once here in passing, I’ve never really written about them. A garden-path sentence is one that initially leads the reader to parse it in one way, but turns out to be structured differently than it appeared to be. The usual example, and the first example I encountered, […]

Puns from Facebook

Every now and then, I come up with a pun that I like, and I post it to Facebook. I’m now collecting those posts on a Words & Stuff page. (Which I’ll add to over time.) Oddly, all the ones I’ve put on that page so far have been posted in April of various years. […]

Punny names revisited

Way back in column n, I linked to my uncle Dobe Doinat’s Punny Names archive. That particular page that I linked to is gone, but Dobe has more recently created the Punny Name Archive (NSFW), a wiki that currently lists about 200 names. If you like names like Alice Well, Justin Case, or Robin Banks, […]

Walking into bars

I really enjoyed this set of “…walks into a bar” jokes about various aspects of language. Some examples: A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly. A bar was walked into by the passive voice. Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.” A malapropism […]

Cargo space

Cute joke: [first day as car salesman] Customer: Cargo space? Me: Car no do that. Car no fly. Manager: Can I see you in my office?— THE Burger King (@ABurgerADay) July 14, 2017 Not sure if that tweet is the origin of the joke, but it’s the earliest-dated version of it that I’ve found.

Ming dynasty rebus

The Asian Art Museum’s online collection includes a dish labeled as Foliated dish with bird, deer, wasps, and monkey, from the Ming dynasty (specifically the period corresponding to 1567-1572). The images on the plate turn out to be a rebus. (See also column YY.) The images include, among other elements, a bird, a deer, some […]