Friday, September 9, 2011

Just Don't Call Me Late For Dinner

Fun with words is a regular topic here and nothing is more 'funner' than a sentence with a double meaning, commonly known as a double entendre. (Sort of what puns become when they grow up.) For writers and other reprobates who do that on purpose it's a way of inserting wit and humor into their day and livening up their work. (How dare they assume their readers have a sense of humor.)

There are a couple of ways of making one, but mostly, double entendres make use of one word in a sentence that has two different meanings. In the example above, the word "call" could mean addressing you by name ("I'm going to call you Maurice, after the Rocket"), or it could mean making a call on a phone. ("Let me call you a cab.") But you knew that.

The most common examples use an innocent expression combined with a second meaning that is naughty in nature, like (cover your eyes Auntie), "I can't leave her behind alone." Groucho made good use of this kind. His most famous naughty double entendre may well be "If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" Benny Hill, Mel Brooks and John Cleese also made good use of this one.

Another Groucho gem, "I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."

Used with a modicum of taste, double meanings of words can be great wordplay and engage listeners or readers. Even Sir Winston Churchill understood this. “A politician is asked to stand, wants to sit, and is expected to lie.” 

But my favorite double entendres have to be the ones that crop up innocently in the course of normal conversation, have me rolling on the floor with the person who uttered it going "What? WHAT?"


  1. I've been called "nuts" before, but how can I be multiple objects? I tend to step in double entendres like stepping in dog poop. It's completely accidental, but unlike poop, it cracks me up. I envy people who are funny on purpose, and reading your posts always make me smile. Love your trash cans!

  2. I learned a long time ago that I'm only funny when I'm not trying to be. Thanks Linda. In case anyone is wondering "Love your trash cans" is not a weird term of endearment but a reference to another post this week. :o) Okay, maybe it's a weird term of endearment... I shouldn't assume...