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I was thinking deeply about figurative language today, and I read a sentence that must be an example of a specific type of figurative language, but I didn't remember learning about it and couldn't find it on a reference I use.

The sentence, from Street Love by Walter Dean Myers, is:

Could it even withstand the voltage of / His mother's shock?

Myers builds the metaphor of voltage off of one definition of the word shock, while also calling the other to mind, since the mother would be surprised/upset at this event.

It seems to me that there ought to be a word for this! Any ideas?

I found a similar example, too. It was used as an example of parallelism on the site I was referencing:

She liked sneaking up to Ted and putting the ice cream down his back, because he was so cool about it.

It ins't a metaphor, but it similarly uses both meanings of the word (cool, in this case). I thought it might be helpful as a clarifying example.

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Btw, this isn't double entendre, it's just pun for fun. –  Kris Nov 12 '12 at 4:26
    
I don't think there's a special term for the two processes, metaphor and double entendre/pun put together. You'd just call it a metaphorical pun. In some sense, a pun is kind of a metaphor anyway; there's a literal meaning and a related non-literal meaning. –  Mitch Nov 12 '12 at 14:28
    
Paronomasia/Paronomastic writing, if you want to get highfalutin about it. –  Autoresponder Nov 12 '12 at 15:26
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2 Answers

They're not really double entendres (words or phrases open to two interpretations, one of which is usually risqué or indecent).

I would just say they're mixed metaphors Even metaphorically, the mother's shock/horror can't meaningfully generate any voltage, and cool/suave dudes have a blood temperature of 37° C just like the rest of us.

It's often assumed that a mixed metaphor must be "bad" - but as OP's examples show, they can be used wittily (depending on how you define that - but at least, as deliberate wordplay).

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If your temperature is 38° C, then you have a fever. Average human temperature is 37° ± ½° C. –  tchrist Nov 12 '12 at 14:05
    
@tchrist: I vaguely thought the "nominal" value was 37.5°, but the easiest way for me to get hold of that ° character for my text was to Google "body heat" (I just cut & pasted the first result). But of course you're right - the standard value is 37, so I'll change it. –  FumbleFingers Nov 12 '12 at 14:12
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I would describe it as wordplay through the use of puns.

While not exactly the same, the following are all examples of Tom Swifties:

  • "Pass me the shellfish," said Tom crabbily.
  • "That's the last time I'll stick my arm in a lion's mouth," the lion-tamer said off-handedly.
  • "Can I go looking for the Grail again?" Tom requested.

A Tom Swifty (or Tom Swiftie) is a phrase in which a quoted sentence is linked by a pun to the manner in which it is attributed. Tom Swifties may be considered a type of wellerism.

The name comes from the Tom Swift series of books (1910–present), similar in many ways to the better-known Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, and, like them, produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In this series, the young scientist hero, Tom Swift, underwent adventures involving rocket ships, ray-guns and other things he had invented.

A stylistic idiosyncrasy of at least some books in this series was that the author, "Victor Appleton," went to great trouble to avoid repetition of the unadorned word "said"; elegant variation used a different quotative verb, or modifying adverbial words or phrases. Since many adverbs end in "ly" this kind of pun was originally called a Tom Swiftly, the archetypal example being "We must hurry," said Tom Swiftly. At some point, this kind of humor was called a Tom Swifty, and that name is now more prevalent though incorrect.

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