Is there a word for taking something that's meant tongue in cheek seriously? For example trying to prove someone wrong after they taunt you by saying “You couldn't fight your way out of a paper bag”.


Perhaps something along the lines of being too literal-minded, if you're evaluating their expression at its face value instead of with its idiomatic meaning.


You might think of this as a visual pun:

visual pun When a phrase which is usually used as a metaphor is instead done, and shown as being performed literally.

For example:

In one of the The Naked Gun films the main character, Frank, says to a bartender "give me the strongest thing you've got", provoking a VERY muscular and oily man in a thong to walk in, flexing his arms. Frank decides against this, and instead asks for a "Black Russian". The bartender just looks at the camera and shakes his head.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.