Meaning of paronomasia in English:


Pronunciation /ˌparənə(ʊ)ˈmeɪzɪə/


  • A play on words; a pun.

    ‘That humorous lyric mentioned earlier, ‘You can't have your Kate and Edith, too’ and the song ‘Overnight Male’ demonstrate paronomasia, use of words alike in sound but different in meaning.’
    • ‘Here, as throughout the poem, her paronomasia acts as a device for eliciting the sensitive connections between words and our physical response to them.’
    • ‘The last example also contains paronomasia; here, the pun is on possessed meaning both having come into possession and unreasonably determined.’
    • ‘Michael Wood's essay, clearly a labor of love, discusses Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Tres tristes tigres, as well as its ambitious translation, concentrating on the author's Joycean ‘besetting virtue,’ paronomasia.’
    • ‘This run of pointed paronomasia comes to a head in ‘fetters,’ which gathers to itself the accumulated sense, minted in the interests of others, of discursive abstractions that bind.’


Late 16th century via Latin from Greek paronomasia, from para- ‘beside’ (expressing alteration) + onomasia ‘naming’ (from onomazein ‘to name’, from onoma ‘a name’).