pun, use of words, usually humorous, based on (a) the several meanings of one word, (b) a similarity of meaning between words that are pronounced the same, or (c) the difference in meanings between two words pronounced the same and spelled somewhat similarly, e.g., Thomas Hood's "They went and told the sexton and the sexton tolled the bell." Puns have also been used seriously, as in the Bible, Mat. 16.18: "Thou art Peter [Gr. Petros ], and upon this rock [Gr. petra ] I will build my church."
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.