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English Stylistics Class 2014. Pun, Zeugma, Irony, Malapropism.


This week we talked about pun, zeugma, irony and malapropism. They all have a comic effect.

A pun is a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings.

In everyday life, puns are intentionally or accidently used in jokes and witty remarks. Let us consider a few examples:

· The life of a patient of hypertension is always at steak.

· A horse is a very stable animal.

· Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

· An elephant’s opinion carries a lot of weight.


Zeugma is a figure of speech in which a word, usually a verb or an adjective, applies to more than one noun blending together grammatically and logically different ideas.

· He lost his coat and his temper.

· You held your breath and the door for me.

· Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave.

· She opened her door and her heart to the orphan.


Irony – a direct contrast of two notions: the notion named and the notion meant. In other words, the writer says one thing, but really means the opposite to produce a humorous effect, or to express a feeling of irritation, displeasure, pity, or regret.

Here are some examples of irony:

· One of the identical twins says to the other, "You're ugly!"

· I saw a fish drowning.

· The name of Britain’s biggest dog was “Tiny”.

· The butter is as soft as a marble piece.


Malapropism is a use of an incorrect word in place of a similar sounding word that results in a nonsensical and humorous expression.


· Cheer up; I predicate (predict) final victory.

· His capacity for hard liquor is incredulous (incredible).

· This does not portend (pretend) to be a great work of art.

· Fortuitously (fortunately) for her, she won the sweepstakes.


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