The case for puns as the most elevated display of wit. The oft-maligned wordplay is clever and creative. Puns have a distinguished history of disrespected witticisms.
Despite its bad reputation, punning is, in fact, among the highest displays of wit. Indeed, puns point to the essence of all true wit—the ability to hold in the mind two different ideas about the same thing at the same time.
The pun’s greater importance is demonstrated by its strategic use in the oldest sacred stories, texts, and myths.
The pun brings not only two words together but the two ideas, prompting consideration of how to align your physical path (career, life, etc.) with your spiritual path.” It’s thus both a play on ideas and words.
William Shakespeare, the greatest English language playwright of all time and an acknowledged master of rhetorical jousting, loved puns so much so that Shakespeare annoyed contemporaries with his affection for wordplay.
Great puns keep the reader toggling back and forth between meanings.
* 200 puns in Love’s Labour’s Lost
* 150 in each of the Henry IV plays
* More than 100 in Much Ado About Nothing and All’s Well That Ends Well
* An overall average of 78 puns per drama by The Bard.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the groundbreaking psychiatrist and writer Sigmund Freud appreciated puns precisely for this reason. They reveal the accidental connections that our minds make, just as the Freudian slip reveals insights into a person’s unconscious thinking.
Many a great mind has been inclined to pun.