April 24, 2008

#01-102: Talking about Puns - Part II

close up on the eyes of a person with esotropia ("crossed eyes")
Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher?

Note: Some puns have longer set-ups than other ones, so they' can be a little harder to tell. Let's look at some of these "mini-stories," as well as some shorter ones.

Get Ready: What about the "cross-eyed teacher" above? (The picture contains a clue!)

The first puns we'll look at in this lesson are a little harder to remember than the ones we saw in Lesson #01-101, because they have a longer "setup." Try to figure out what's funny, then read the explanations given below.

  1. A vulture boards an airplane carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion per passenger."
  2. One boll weevil became the king of his kind; another remained a commoner. The second one, then, was the lesser of two weevils.
  3. I went to the butchers the other day and I bet him $500 that he couldn't reach the meat on the top shelf. He said he didn't want to take the bet because the steaks were too high.
  4. A woman gave up her identical twin sons to be adopted. One went to a family in Egypt who named him Ahmal; the other went to Spain, where he was named Juan. Many years later, Juan sent his birth mother a picture of himself. When she saw it, she told her husband that she wished she had a picture of Ahmal, too. Her husband said, "Why? They look the same! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."
  5. A man once told his friends ten puns, hoping that one of them would make his friends laugh. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

And here are a few more short ones:

  1. A lens maker caught his finger in the grinding machine and made a spectacle of himself.
  2. The man who fell into the upholstery machine is fully recovered.
  3. You didn't hear about the three big holes in the ground? Well, well, well.


  1. "Carrion" sounds like "carry on"; dead meat vs. hand-carried luggage
  2. "Two weevils" sounds like "two evils"; a weevil is a pest. And there is a common expression, "the lesser of two evils."
  3. "Steaks" sounds like "stakes"; the term "high stakes" refers to a large bet.
  4. The punch line sounds like a common expression, "If you've seen one, you've seen 'em (them) all."
  5. Sometimes when we accidentally make a pun, we say, "No pun intended."

And here are a few more short ones:

  1. "To make a spectacle of oneself" means to cause people to stare; and of course, "spectacles" is another word for "eyeglasses."
  2. When we redo the upholstery of a piece of furniture, we say it's "recovered" (covered again). And when someone is sick and feels well again, we also call him "recovered."
  3. A "well" is a "big hole in the ground." And we often say, "Well, well, well" to comment on something a little surprising.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pun

Practice: Match the setup to its punchline below:

  1. Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher?
  2. One of the machines at the coin factory stopped working.
  3. There was a kidnapping at school yesterday.
  4. What did people say to the guy who invented zero?
  5. What do you call the wife of a hippie?
  6. What happened when the man sued an airline company for losing his luggage?

  1. It doesn't make any cents.
  2. Thanks for nothing!
  3. He couldn't control his pupils!
  4. Mississippi!
  5. But it's okay: he woke up!
  6. He lost his case!

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 24, 2008

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