The Truth About Puns And Your Intellect

The Truth About Puns And Your Intellect

Sunday is “fun day!”Let’s explore the truth about puns and your intellect. 🙂

Sunday is “fun day!” Today’s question is the truth about puns and your intellect. 

I’ve heard it said that punning is the lowest form of humor. Really? Oh boy. I’m in trouble because I love punning! Everybody who knows me pretty well knows that. They either enjoy it or don’t, but they do know about it in either case.

How did all this get started? In the early nineties, I went to a conference organized by the American Chemical Society and gave a talk there. In addition to the sessions, they also had a booth where you could buy all kinds of intelligent publications. But you could also look at the t-shirts. 

They had a shirt that said, “Chemistry is pHun.” I was reading it and wondering what it meant. I had not been in the U.S. that long and wasn’t familiar with that kind of play on words. To a chemist, the “pH” value means how acidic or basic a solution is. Thus, I read it as “Chemistry is pH,” followed by the two letters “un .” I was scratching my head. What does this mean? 

Finally, I decided to sound it out. “Chemistry is fun.” Oh! Of course, I had to buy the shirt. The rest is history. 

Then a few years later, I worked for a company that was doing a lot of research and development. I had a lot of fun and geeky colleagues. At some point, our company got acquired by another company. 

The acquiring company said, “You guys do research in many different areas. You need to focus more.” That was probably true.

We had an all-hands-on meeting about how we should focus more. That happened in the days when we still had overhead projectors. As luck had it, the light bulb of the projector burnt out. Here you had all these intelligent scientists and engineers. Of course, we’re a little bit smart alec, too. We said things like

  • “Hmm, what about that focus? We should focus more but feel left out in the dark here.”
  • “This is not really very illuminating.”
  • “The optics of this is not so positive.”

I call that kind of punning “ping pong punning.” One person says something, the next person builds on it, and the puns bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball.

I’m Curious

Is punning really the lowest form of intellect? You be the judge! Happy Sunday!

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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