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My coworker has a shirt where it's a picture of an avocado riding a bicycle. The joke? Avocardio!

My coworker says the joke is a pun. It's definitely a play on words, but I always thought a pun had to play on a word with two meanings. A classic example: what do you call a mix between an elephant and a rhino? Eleph-ino (hell-if-I-know).

Like elephino, avacardio is an absurd sounding mashup between the two words. But unlike elephino, avacardio doesn't have a meaning on its own. Therefore, I'm not sure if it counts as a pun.

Am I getting "pun" mixed up with "double entendre"? Or is the shirt, in fact, not a pun?

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    It's certainly a play on words (you need to supply a definition of 'pun'). How good a pun it is is a different masher. Feb 17, 2020 at 20:02
  • Pretty puny, I'd say.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 17, 2020 at 20:07
  • According to google: "a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings."
    – johncorser
    Feb 17, 2020 at 20:29
  • What dictionaries did you reference for the meaning of "pun"?
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 17, 2020 at 20:45
  • I just googled: "define pun"
    – johncorser
    Feb 17, 2020 at 20:49

1 Answer 1

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It's a pun.

The rhetoric site Silva Rhetoricae hosted by BYU and maintained by Dr. Gideon Burton provides the following definition of pun under paranomasia:

Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).

In your example, let's break down the words at play:

  • avocado, a tree well-known for its edible fruit

  • cardio, heart-related activity

  • avocardio, the nonce portmanteau from combining avocado and cardio

In this case, the -cado in avocado is echoed in the -cardio in avocardio, which has similar sounds. Avocado and avocardio sound alike. But they have two meanings. Literally the avocado is a fruit, but avocardio plays off of the avocado's perceived status as a heart-healthy food (e.g. "An avocado a day keeps the cardiologist away," Penn State) to create a new word and meaning. That fits the definition of paronomasia.

Now, whether it's a good pun or one where its forced similarity is groan-worthy depends on your aesthetic judgment and your taste in t-shirts.

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