English Puns (aka ‘Dad Jokes’)


A pun /ˈpʌn/ is a play on words for comic effect, often highlighting their pronunciation, so it’s safe to say we like a good pun at Pronunciation Studio. Here are a few of our favourites that will hopefully make you laugh, but will more likely make you cringe:

“A man just attacked me with milk, cream and butter. I mean, how dairy!”

The pun is based on the word ‘dairy’, which is pronounced the same way as ‘dare he’ if you use a linking /r/ and drop the ‘h’ in ‘he’: /ˈdeəri/.

“I’m on a seafood diet. Every time I see food, I eat it!”

Plays on the homophones ‘sea’ and ‘see’, which are both pronounced /ˈsiː/.

“I want to make a joke about Sodium, but… Na.”

Plays on the homograph ‘Na’ which is both the chemical element Sodium, and an informal way of saying ‘no’. It’s pronounced with a long /æ/ sound: [ˈnæː].

“Did you hear about the Roman cannibal whose wife disappeared? He said he was glad he ate her.”

Plays on the homophone ‘gladiator’ and ‘glad he ate her’, in order to reach this pronunciation you need to join the words and drop both ‘h’ in the sentence to make /ˈglædieɪtə/.

“Atheism, the non-prophet organisation.”

This is based on the famous pun by American comedian George Carlin, playing on the homophones ‘prophet’ and ‘profit’, which are both pronounced /ˈprɒfɪt/ .

“Did you hear about the guy whose left side was cut off? He’s all right now.”

The combination ‘all right’ is used as a homophone with the word ‘alright’ here: /ˌɔːlˈraɪt/.

“What time do you have to go to the dentist?”
“Tooth hurtie.”

The time ‘two thirty’ is pronounced as a homophone with ‘tooth hurtie’, as it would be in connected speech: /ˌtuːθ ˈɜːti/. The ‘h’ in ‘hurtie’  isn’t heard clearly whether you pronounce it or not, as the voiceless fricative /θ/ is directly before it.

“When you get a bladder infection, you know urine trouble.”

The word ‘urine’ is pronounced in the same way as ‘you’re in’ if you join it with a linking /r/: /ˈjɔːrɪn/, though they could also be pronounced /ˈjɜːrɪn/

“I just went to an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.”

A play on the homophones ‘tears’ and ‘tiers’, which are both pronounced /ˈtɪəz/.

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

Perhaps the most famous of all puns, this by Groucho Marx plays on the homonym (both a homograph and a homophone) of the word ‘flies’ pronounced /ˈflaɪz/ which is both the verb ‘to fly’ in the third person, and the noun ‘fly’ in its plural form. It also plays on different uses of the word ‘like’ which is a preposition in the first sentence and a verb in the second.

“Reading while sunbathing will make you well read.”

A play on the homophone ‘read’ as the past tense of the verb ‘to read’, and ‘red’ the colour, both pronounced /ˈred/.

‘Dad Jokes’

Unfortunately, puns are particularly popular with middle aged men, who have a unique brand of pun called a ‘dad joke’. These are generally highly predictable and nearly always produce a sigh of disapproval in the poor listener. In fact, dad jokes are like jokes about paper, they’re tearable.

We apologise for the puns in this article, please post better ones in the comments section below. 


This article uses English IPA symbols – learn each of them with pronunciation notesdiagrams and audio in Pronunciation Studio’s free Starter Pack.