Puns: One Day At the Stock Market


Puns  are very popular in the United States. They are used in everyday talk amongst friends, with colleagues at the office, in movies’ scripts, magazine articles and just about everywhere. If English is not your native language, let me explain what I mean by the term “pun”. A pun is a play on words that relies on a word’s having more than one meaning or sounding like another word.

Another definition that I like is, “A humorous substitution of words that are alike in sound but different in meaning”. It’s like playing with the definition of words in order to create humor. The Wikipedia Encyclopedia says that, “puns are a common source of humor in jokes and comedy shows. They are often used in the punchline of a joke, where they typically give a humorous meaning to a rather perplexing story.”

Let me give you an example to get the point across:

  • Question: What instrument do fish like to play?
  • Answer: A bass guitar.
[Pun on the identical spelling of “bass” (low frequency), and “bass” (a kind of fish)]

Even though puns are fun, they’re very hard to understand if you don’t know the English language. If you plan to visit or plan to study in the United States, it would be a good idea to start studying how puns are constructed and used in the American society. If you don’t, everybody would be laughing at a well said pun, and you will be dead serious asking, “What the heck is going on?”.

To help you get started in the understanding of puns, here’s a good selection of puns used in the context of activities performed at a stock market, be it the New York Stock Exchange or the London Stock Exchange.

Helium was up, feathers were down.
Paper was stationary.
Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading.
Knives were up sharply.
Cow steered into a bull market.
Pencils lost a few points.
Hiking equipment was trailing.
Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline.
Weights were up in heavy trading.
Light switches were off.
Mining equipment hit rock bottom.
Diapers remain unchanged.
Shipping lines stayed at an even keel.
The market for raisins dried up.
Coca Cola fizzled.
Caterpillar stock inched up a bit.
Sun peaked at midday.
Balloon prices were inflated.
And batteries exploded in an attempt to recharge the market.

If all of the above means “nada, zero, zilch, naught, loco, nil, nothing, null, zip, zippo” to you; then you’d better start studying puns. After you get the hang of it, you’ll soon start making your own puns and having lots of fun—“The American Way”.

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