If one is referencing a prior comment in a conversation that uses a term with multiple meanings, using the alternate meaning to make wordplay, would this be considered a pun? (Note: poor software engineering joke to follow)

Person 1: "It's a stomach bug"

Person 2: "You should probably check the log file."

For some explicit context, bug was intended to reference a germ/sickness, whereas the following line references "bug" in terms of an issue with software - and checking a log file is a common way to solve the issue.

Person 1 did not intend to make a pun, but Person 2 explicitly exposed the dual meaning. Both parties are aware of the word's other meaning.

Should this be considered a pun? If not, is there a more appropriate and specific term for this?

  • 2
    Log also has a relevant (though indelicate) meaning. Apr 23, 2015 at 19:20
  • 4
    It would be funnier if Person 2 said "You should probably check your logs"
    – Frank
    Apr 23, 2015 at 19:21
  • See also double entendre en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_entendre which doesn't require Person 1 to be aware of the alternate meaning. And Donald McGill's seaside postcards en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_McGill
    – Frank
    Apr 23, 2015 at 19:27
  • @Frank Agreed on the revision :P Though assume for the above that Person 1 is aware of the alternate meaning (and it is relevant to the conversation's context, as well)
    – ty1824
    Apr 23, 2015 at 19:30
  • Don't you think "…stomach bug…" and "… log file…" are far too distantly related to count as a pun in general English usage? For people working closely together in a relevant field and sharing the same sense of humour - particularly if they were stoned - it might be hilarious to the point of rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming. In the actual wording of your Question no, a pun doesn't at all require explicit reference. Implicit reference can be more powerful. For a childish example consider "Hurry up! Chop chop! Run to the butcher's quickly!" Jun 27, 2020 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


I see no reason not to say that person 2 has made a pun. One would say that he has punned off Person 1 or his straight line. Puns by no means have to be self-contained, in isolation, indeed the most fun is to be had with a punning contest or at the least with a good rally (using this in the tennis sense).


Not at all. Sometimes the words are not explicitly used at all..

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