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Pepper Alley

A kindergartener misunderstands the name of an event at his school, insisting to his mother that he attended a pepper alley, not a pep rally. Let’s hope that’s the case, because pepper alley is actually 19th-century boxing slang for...

Witzelsucht

English speakers borrowed the German term Witzelsucht (or “joke addiction”) to mean “excessive punning and a compulsion to tell bad jokes.” While it might sound amusing to have a word for such behavior, the word refers...

Recommended Light, Punny Reading

Last week, Mike M. sent us an email asking us for help. He wrote, I’ve been reading a lot of technical literature recently, but I need a break. Can you recommend a book that uses puns or word plays. Something light. Of course, there’s...

You Bet Your Sweet Bippy

Why do some puns strike us as clever, while others are plain old groaners? Martha and Grant puzzle over this question. Also, the difference between baggage and luggage, a royal word quiz, the “egg” in egg on, what to call someone who...

The Pun Also Rises

Martha and Grant discuss why some puns work and others don’t. Martha recommends John Pollack’s observation in The Pun Also Rises describing how “for a split second, puns manage to hold open the elevator doors of language and...

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