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Quotations about Puns



It may be as well to observe, however, that just as the goodness of your true pun is in the direct ratio of its intolerability, so is nonsense the essential sense of the Marginal Note. ~Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia, 1844


A pun is a short quip followed by a long groan. ~Author unknown


Punning is a virtue that most effectually promotes the end of good fellowship, which is laughing. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. ~Fred Allen


Puns are little “plays on words” that a certain breed of person loves to spring on you and then look at you in a certain self-satisfied way to indicate that he thinks that you must think that he is by far the cleverest person on Earth now that Benjamin Franklin is dead, when in fact what you are thinking is that if this person ever ends up in a lifeboat, the other passengers will hurl him overboard by the end of the first day even if they have plenty of food and water. ~Dave Barry, "Why Humor Is Funny," 1986, davebarry.com


Punning is an art of harmonious jingling upon words, which passing in at the ears, and falling upon the diaphragma, excites a titillary motion in those parts, and this being conveyed by the animal spirits into the muscles of the face, raises the cockles of the heart. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


I never knew an enemy of puns who was not an ill-natured man. A pun is a noble thing per se; it fills the mind, it is as perfect as a sonnet. May my last breath be drawn through a pipe and exhaled as a pun. ~Charles Lamb


Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide—that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life—are alike forbidden. Manslaughter, which is the meaning of the one, is the same as man's laughter, which is the end of the other. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894), The Autocrat of the Breakfast-table


A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


A pun is not bound by the laws which limit nicer wit. It is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect. It is an antic which does not stand upon manners, but comes bounding into the presence, and does not show the less comic for being dragged in sometimes by the head and shoulders. What though it limp a little, or prove defective in one leg? — all the better. ~Charles Lamb, 1833


Rule 5. Any person may pun another man's puns about half an hour after he has made them, as Dr — and Mr — frequently do. I remember one day I was in company with them, and upon Major —'s saying, "That he would leave me the gout for a legacy;" I made answer, and told the company, "I should be sorry to have such a leg as he." They both snapped it up in their turns, and had as much applause for the pun as I had. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


Rule 8. The Rule of Interruption. Although the company be engaged in a discourse of the most serious consequence, it is, and may be lawful to interrupt them with a pun. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


Vincent is the only punster I ever knew with a good heart. No action to that race in general is so serious an occupation as the play upon words; and the remorseless habit of murdering a phrase, renders them perfectly obdurate... ~Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton (1803–1873), Pelham; or, The Adventures of a Gentleman, 1828


Rule 11. The Rule of Repetition. You must never let a pun be lost, but repeat, and comment upon it, till every one in the company both hears and understands it. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


JOKE. Something that's extremely clever — when we make it ourselves. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905


It's hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs — they always take them literally. ~Author unknown


Rule 21. The Rule of Concatenation, is making a string of puns as fast as you can, that no body else can put in a word 'till you have exhausted the subject. ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


Science has not yet found a cure for the pun. ~Robert Byrne, The 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1982


...no circumstances, however dismal, will ever be considered a sufficient excuse for the admission of that last and saddest evidence of intellectual poverty, the Pun. ~Mark Twain


Where the common people appreciate puns and often make them, one may safely take it that the nation is of a very high order of culture. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908


People who make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the railroad tracks. They amuse themselves and other children, but their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for the sake of a battered witticism. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


Rule 25. The Etymological Rule, is when a man hunts a pun through every letter and syllable of a word... ~Jonathan Swift, "Ars Pun-ica, sive Flos Linguarum; The Art of Punning; or, The Flower of Languages"


I'm an incorrigible punster. Do not incorrige me. ~Author unknown


The man who never has been known to pun
Will groan to point out he's a judge of one.
~Evan Esar


For my own part, I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation. ~James Boswell


Its benefits to the poet are evident: the rhyme is merely a glorified pun, two strings of ideas bisociated in an acoustic knot. ~Arthur Koestler





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