US President Obama in his recent annual State of the Union address to the Congress:

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here tonight with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. Only now he makes more of it: John just gave his employees a raise, to ten bucks an hour – a decision that eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.

The use of dough was straight-forward and in its most common meaning.

However, the speaker uses its pronoun in a pun in the next sentence – that Nick now makes more money, not prepares more of the wetted flour.

If this is Antanaclasis1 or another literary device, can a pronoun thus serve as well as the word itself?

1. Antanaclasis. From Greek ̩ ̩ἀντανάκλασις, a figure of speech involving a pun, consisting of the repeated use of the same word, each time with different meanings.

  • At least as I read it, I see the pun as already present in the initial usage in an initial double entendre and then just clarified when the pronoun substitutes for it.
    – virmaior
    Jan 29, 2014 at 9:09
  • Already in the initial usage? I can't see any pun there until I reach the second reference. Perhaps.
    – Kris
    Jan 29, 2014 at 11:38
  • I generally consider helps make the dough to be laden with that meaning unless the specific context excludes its possibility. Maybe this is a difference between AmE and BrE?
    – virmaior
    Jan 29, 2014 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


As a punthusiast, I can confirm that the humour works just as well in the example you gave without repetition. In the Wikipedia article on antanaclasis, a Jay-Z lyric is referenced:

"I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!"

While I like this example, I find other lyrics of his more effective where there is no repetition of the words - one meaning is assumed when they are first delivered, and then he alters the meaning through simile rather than repetition. Two of my favourites are:

"I check cheddar like a food inspector"

"I pack heat like I'm the oven door"

It's a little more surreal and abstract, but I find it displays linguistic flair and humour, and indeed is a very common lyrical device in hip hop.

I think it's worth pointing out that Nick could be making more of both kinds of dough - since his morale has increased, his productivity may well have improved. That's venturing into business psychology though.

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