I've been searching for this literary concept for two days straight, with no luck. So bear with me please as I explain. I'm looking for the correct term to use when wordplay is used in a way that's related to pronunciation. So, what is it called when you say a word, but if you were to listen to it again (exactly the same way) it could sound like a whole new phrase / concept?

Example 1 : Beyonce's song "in formation"
She sings it saying, "OK ladies now let's get 'in formation'," or one could have heard her say, "OK ladies now lets get 'information'." One could have heard it either way. One way with one full word in itself with no spaces, or another way with a phrase that requires spaces. The trick is both ways sound exactly alike.

Example 2 : the word "queso"
It could be said as "queso" as in the melted cheese, or "K, so?" as in the sarcastic gesture many of us use sometimes. (Another way they both sound the same but can mean two different things.)

Example 3 : "Lettuce Leave"
"Lettuce Leave" simply means a single leaf from a salad or such, or one could use it as a command in a group setting: "Let us leave!"

  • 2
    Phonetic pun, sound pun, homophonic pun.
    – DyingIsFun
    Aug 11, 2016 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


It's a pun, also called paronomasia.

The pun is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.
These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_of_speech (list)

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