A pun is a play on words. It usually has more than one meaning or with the substitution of a given homonym that changes the meaning of the sentence for a funny effect.
The homophonic pun is a common type of pun that uses similar sounding word pairs called homophones, or words that sound like each other but have different meanings. Example of two words that sound like each other are:
Hoarse- Hoarse means to sound rough or harsh- usually in reference to a sore throat
Horse- Horse is an animal with 4 legs, a mane and tail
If you said the hoarse horse- that would be horse with a sore throat- which is sort of silly.
A homonymic pun contains aspects of both the homophonic pun and the homographic pun. In this type of pun, the wordplay involves a word that is spelled the same and sounds the same but has different meanings. For example, “Two silk worms had a race and ended in a tie.” A “tie” can of course either be when neither party wins, but in this pun also refers to the piece of clothing usually made from silk.
A compound pun/word art is one that includes more than a pun. Here is a famous compound pun given by the English rhetorician and theologian Richard Whately: “Why can a man never starve in the Great Desert? Because he can eat the sand which is there. But what brought the sandwiches there? Why Noah sent Ham, and his descendants mustered and bred.” There are several separate puns, including the pun on “sand which” and “sandwich,” as well as “Ham” (a Biblical figure) and “ham” and the homophonic puns on “mustered”/“mustard” and “bred”/“bread” (DEVICES, n.d.)
Check out our homophone lists and see if you can make some of your own puns!