Literary Puns Only Readers Will Understand

by Charlotte Ahlin

Puns. The only legal form of torture. If you are a dad, a teacher, or a bleary-eyed English major running on no sleep and a lot of coffee, you can probably appreciate the artistry of a good pun. Or at least, you can appreciate a good literary pun. A pun that combines the sense of humor of a tired dad with the nerdiness of a tired grad student. Because there's nothing better than a highly specific pun that some people won't even get. So prepare to groan: here are some literary puns that only readers will understand.

Between punny Halloween costumes, punny t-shirts, and an endless deluge of wordplay-fueled memes, the pun is really having its cultural moment. It's strange, then, that puns are also the most reviled form of humor. A good pun aims to elicit a response somewhere between, "Oh, that's kind of funny," and "I swear to god I will kill you." A truly great pun walks the line between hilarious and terrible.

So, let's stop the pun hate and try to look at these puns with some level of punderstanding (I'm sorry). Here are some literary puns to make you and all of your fellow readers scream and roll your eyes and maybe even chuckle quietly before hurling your computer down the stairs in anger:

1. Why is John Milton terrible to invite to game night? Because when he's around, there's a pair of dice lost.

2. What makes "Civil Disobedience" such a great essay? Thoreau editing.

3. What happened when Past, Present, and Future walked into a bar? It was tense.

4. How does Voltaire like his apples? Candied.

5. Why did the run-on sentence think it was pregnant? Its period was late.

6. When I was a kid, my teacher said, “Name two pronouns.” I said, ‘Who, me?”

7. What was Socrates’ favorite thing to mold? Play dough.

8. Why did Shakespeare write in pen? Because pencils confused him—2B or not 2B??

9. Honestly, everyone should just leave writing poetry to the prose.

10. That Charlotte Brontë, she’s a breath of fresh Eyre.

11. What do pregnant women and apostrophes have in common? They're prone to contractions.

12. What do writers eat for breakfast? Joyce Carol Oatmeal.

13. Oedipus? He's a motherf*cker.

14. What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? Cats have claws at the end of paws. Commas are a pause at the end of a clause.

15. What’s Emily Dickinson’s favorite reindeer? Dasher.

16. Why are writers always cold? Because they're always surrounded by drafts.

Images: mybookbath/instagram, Giphy (17)