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    #1

    Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    I have been having some difficulty understanding whether a phrase would be considered a pun or something else entirely, and it is important for a business writing activity. I have read numerous articles on what puns are and the different types, but I'm still somewhat uncertain. So would someone please tell me if the following examples are puns? It would be of great help:

    Let's just say someone was leaving a mountain, the hardest part was getting to the top, and all he has left is to come down. So he says, "Well, I guess it's all downhill from here!" His phrase has a double meaning. It's true in the literal sense that he physically only has to go down, but it's humorous because it's also true as a saying which means that the hard part is over. So it was a statement meant as a jest that has two meanings. Was his comment a pun? If not, is there a way to slightly tweak it to make it one?

    Or for example, let's just say that a guy was in his house with his wife, and she saw a rat and screamed. So the husband turns off the lights thinking she won't be scared if she can't see it. However, not knowing where the rat is only makes things worse. Still, the wife tries to be lighthearted about it and says, "Turning off the lights when that thing needs to be caught? You're not very- bright- are you?" It's funny because it has two meanings. He made things dark so that they weren't bright, and it also has the meaning of saying he isn't very smart. So the phrase has two meanings. Is that a pun, and if not, is there a way to make it one?

    I have been tasked with writing some puns for work, and while I do know of some examples that definitely are, given that there are multiple kinds of puns, I wasn't sure if these examples qualified. They're both meant as jokes and have two meanings, one literal and one that's an expression. And if those are not puns, what are they, if you please?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    The one with "It's all downhill from here" is clearly meant to be a play on words but it doesn't really work. If the hard part of the journey is over, then from now on things will get easier/better for him. That's not the meaning of "It's all downhill from here". That means things will get worse/harder.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    The phrase actually has two contradictory meanings. Yours is one. The other is "the hard part is over and things will be easier from now on".

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    I've never heard "It's [all] downhill from here" used to mean that things will get easier.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    We use it. Think about the difficulty of moving uphill and the change once you have reached the top. Downhill is easier.

  5. Skrej's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    I agree with Mike, it's commonly used (as least in the US) to mean 'get easier', as well as 'worsen'. Actually, the Cambridge dictionary lists it as a BrE expression also.

    So I would say that yes, in the OP's original statement, it could be considered a pun.

    The second example with 'bright' could be considered a pun as well, but I find the first one to be a better example. It's more obvious.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    I am familiar only with the meaning that things will be easier the rest of the way.

  7. teechar's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Understanding Whether Pun or Otherwise

    I was going to post what emsr2d2 did, but I was beaten to it!
    This must be another AmE thing.
    Curiously though, I found this in the Cambridge Dictionary website:
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...e-all-downhill

    However, I reiterate that I've only ever used that expression in the sense outlined by emsr2d2 above. I suppose it could have started with one intended meaning and morphed into another later.

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