Witty Wordplay Examples That’ll Make You Think Twice

pun dog ate hot dog dog-eat-dog world

Adapted from Getty Images

Creative use of language has a profound effect on how everyone absorbs information. Clever wordplay gets people to listen up and pay attention. It also encourages listeners to interpret what is being said in unique ways. Like an artist painting with vibrant colors, using words to capture a reader’s imagination can be a stroke of rhetorical genius. Keep reading to learn about some of the various wordplay examples in the English language.

Puns Are Wordplay Examples of Corny Fun

Puns are phrases that use similar-sounding words to allude to definitions not normally associated with those words. They can also create juxtaposition between two or more words or phrases to imply a relationship between them. 

Puns are probably the most common form of wordplay. At the very least, they are the easiest to recognize. This is because people often use them for comedic effect. The best examples of this are the ever-popular “dad jokes” commonly shared online and in friend groups.

Wordplay examples using puns include:

  • My labrador ate my hot dog while I wasn’t looking. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, I tell you.

  • A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two-tired.

  • I don’t trust stairs because they’re always up to something.

Stress a Sound with Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the start of multiple words in a sentence. These wordplay examples are used often in poems, songs and other forms of creative writing to draw the reader’s attention. They help strengthen a point or mood that the author wants to emphasize.

The use of alliteration is especially popular as a marketing tool. Companies use wordplay to make their brands and products easier to remember. The catchier the name, the better.

Alliteration examples include: 

  • My foolish friends frantically fought over the French fries.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

  • “It’s Nerf or Nothin’” (motto for Nerf toy brand)

Amuse Anyone with Assonance

Assonance is similar in function to alliteration. It refers to connecting words through similar sounds. The key difference is that assonance connects words through their similar vowel sounds. And these sounds can occur in any part of the words, not just the beginning.

People commonly rely on the use of assonance to create rhymes. The wordplay helps convey the emotion or tone of the subject. It also puts emphasis on the important parts of a sentence, just like alliteration does.

Examples of assonance include: 

  • He made a new cake and ate it quickly.

  • “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” - My Fair Lady

  • "I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless." - “With Love” by Thin Lizzy

Rhymes Garner Attention Every Time

Rhymes are often a combination of the previous types of wordplay, plus others not listed. They are phrases connected through consonants and vowels that sound similar at the ends of words. The patterns of syllables and their repetition also play a part in their creation.

Rhyming is a common and often essential component of many creative projects. Poets and musicians rely on the use of rhyme (and rhyme scheme) the most. But, they are also important to marketers and anyone else with a specific audience.

Because they use a combination of other wordplay types, rhymes come in many styles. Some of the most well-known forms are:

  • Dactyl Meter: A rhyme where a word or words start with one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed, similar-sounding syllables.

  • Identical Rhyme: A rhyme where one word rhymes with itself.

  • Perfect Rhyme: A rhyme where the endings of words match exactly.

Examples of using rhyme for clever wordplay include: 

  • This movie is art and will forever hold a special place in my heart.

  • Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night.” - William Blake

  • Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Keep Things Discreet with Euphemisms

Euphemisms are phrases that describe a person, place, or thing in a subtle, indirect or metaphorical way. Typically, someone will use a euphemism to soften an unpleasant topic. Wordplay examples here might relate to death, medical issues, or other sensitive topics.

People can also use euphemisms for comedic effect. This happens when someone wants to explain a complaint of theirs, but they want to do it in a way that does not explicitly state it.

Examples of euphemisms include: 

  • Our neighbor went to a better place last week. (Our neighbor died last week.)

  • That play I watched was something else. (The play wasn’t very good.)

  • Joe is getting on in years. (He’s growing old.)

Idioms Are a Culture’s Secret Codes

Idioms are expressions or other jargon used by specific groups of people. They do not necessarily make literal sense outside of a society’s understanding of their context. Idioms can be found in every language and culture around the world.

These wordplay examples have figurative meanings. No one should take what they say literally. This is why, as useful as idioms are within a culture, they can be sources of confusion for any outsiders who are trying to understand what is being said.

Common examples of idioms include: 

  • This opportunity is a double-edged sword. (It has good and bad qualities.)

  • Break a leg. (Good luck.)

  • Sam and Sophie are head over heels. (They’re in love.)

Malapropisms Are a Fun Type of Blunder

Malapropisms are words or phrases used incorrectly when other words or phrases are intended. 

So many words in English either sound similar or are spelled similarly. This lends itself to more frequent examples of this odd wordplay than many people might realize.

People can often use malapropisms for comedic effect as well. For instance, comedians and other entertainers might say a malapropism on purpose to make fun of themselves or another target.

Examples of malapropisms include: 

  • Flying saucers are just an optical conclusion. (illusion)

  • Having one wife is called monotony. (monogamy)

  • I am not at your beckon call. (beck and call)

Endless Ways to Play with Words

English is a complex language, but that can be a good thing! This depth allows people to be creative with their choice of words (and how they choose to play with them). English is always evolving. Want to know more about the phrases, words, and terms that continue to join our lexicon? A good place to start would be with WordFinder's list of popular gaming terms that have made their way into the dictionary.

Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.


See more popular articles