the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
the word or phrase used in this way.
verb (used without object), punned, punning.
to make puns.

1655–65; perhaps special use of pun, variant (now dial.) of pound1, i.e., to mistreat (words)

punless, adjective
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World English Dictionary
pun1 (pʌn)
1.  the use of words or phrases to exploit ambiguities and innuendoes in their meaning, usually for humorous effect; a play on words. An example is: "Ben Battle was a soldier bold, And used to war's alarms: But a cannonball took off his legs, So he laid down his arms." (Thomas Hood)
vb , puns, punning, punned
2.  (intr) to make puns
[C17: possibly from Italian puntiglio point of detail, wordplay; see punctilio]

pun2 (pʌn)
vb , puns, punning, punned
(Brit) (tr) to pack (earth, rubble, etc) by pounding
[C16: dialectal variant of pound1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1662, probably a clipped form of pundigron, which is perhaps a humorous alteration of It. puntiglio "equivocation, trivial objection," dim. of L. punctum "point." The verb is attested from 1670. Johnson has also punster, defined as "a low wit who endeavours at reputation by double meaning."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

pun definition

A humorous substitution of words that are alike in sound but different in meaning (see double-entendre), as in this passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll:

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle, “nine the next, and so on.”
“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
“That's the reason they're called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
His paintings are jammed with layers of puns and pop culture references.
Now the words began to flow, although it was etymologically impossible to root
  out all of the puns.
Such visual puns, artfully constructed, appeal to the mind as much as any
But, in certain instances, the change may produce ambiguity or may be useful
  only for puns.
Related Words
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