Have you ever heard of the word “paronomasia”? No, neither had I. A synonym for it is “pun.” I’ve long been a lover of puns, and the worse they are, the better I like them. Recently, my friend and colleague Beth Terry sent along several I hadn’t seen before. They’re so bad, they’re wonderful.
1. King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.
Croesus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it.”
“But I paid a million dinars for it,” the King protested. “Don’t you know who I am? I am the king!”
Croesus replied, “When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are.”
2. Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. Unfortunately, all league records were destroyed in a fire, …so we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.
3. A man rushed into a busy doctor’s surgery and shouted, “Doctor! I think I’m shrinking!” The doctor calmly responded, “Now, settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”
4. Once upon a time, Tate’s Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products. They already made the cases for watches, and decided to use them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California. This, of course, is the origin of the expression: “He who has a Tate’s is lost!”
5. An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.”
6. A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official, who apologized profusely saying, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”
7. A skeptical anthropologist was cataloguing South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal elder who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the elder looked him in the eye and said, “Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don’t need enemas.”