Jest for Pun logo What People have had to say 
about Puns

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

Dave Barry: "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."

James Boswell on puns: "... among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation."

Anthony Burgess: "... plurality of reference is in the very nature of language, and its management and exploitation is one of the joys of writing."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: In a lecture on Shakespeare, he said that punning "may be the lowest, but at all events is the most harmless kind of wit, because it never excites envy."

William Combe: "A paltry, humbug jest; those who have the least wit make them best."

John Dryden: ... to "torture one poor word ten thousand ways."

Henry Erskine: When asked if the pun is the lowest form of wit, he replied, "It is, and therefore the foundation of all wit."

Oliver Wendell Holmes: "People that 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 Wendel Holmes: "There is no such thing as a female punster." {I guess that means that punning is a crime for malefactors only!}

Victor Hugo: "Le calembour est la fiente de l'esprit qui vole."

Samuel Johnson: "If I were punished for every pun I shed, there would not be left a puny shed of my punnish head."

Arthur Koestler: "... two strings of thought tied with an acoustic knot."

Charles Lamb: "... a noble thing per se. It fills the mind, it is as perfect as a sonnet; better."

Charles Lamb: "... a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect."

Oscar Levant: "A pun is the lowest form of humor - when you don't think of it first."

Leonard L. Levinson: "... a joke based on the infirmities of language."

Christopher Morley: "... language on vacation."

Edgar Allen Poe: "Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them."

Edgar Allen Poe: "The goodness of the true pun is in direct ratio to its intolerability."

Sydney Smith on puns: "The wit of words. They are exactly the same to words which wit is to ideas, and consist in the sudden discovery of relations in language."

Jonathan Swift: "... a talent which no man effects to despise but he that is without it."

Jonathan Swift: "Punning is an art of harmonious jingling upon words, which, passing in at the ears, 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."

Louis Untermeyer: "... something every person belittles and everyone attempts."

Noah Webster: "... a low species of wit."

Ambrose Bierce: "... form of wit, to which wise men stoop and fools aspire."

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Okay, okay. So you don't parle francais. You tried to figure out that Victor Hugo quote above until you were sacre bleu in the face. Well, the quote roughly translates as, "Puns are the droppings of soaring wits." Ha!

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