Tag Archives: paronomasia

Pokéman, Pickachu and Pupitar

Pokémon: n. a multi-billion dollar media franchise owned by Nintendo but started by Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri. Pokémon took the youth world by storm in 1995 and shows no signs of slowing down. The franchise includes video games, playing/trading cards, movies, books and much more based on 493 anime characters.

pikachuPikachu: n. a yellow electric mouse who is considered the official mascot of the Pokémon world. Pikachu has the ability to store and release electricity in its cheeks.

pupitarPupitar: n. Pupitar looks like a short bumblebee with two short pointy legs. He has a mask and three spikes of hair on his head.

My grandsons live a thousand miles away. One way we could keep connected is by talking on the phone. My daughter passes the phone to them, I ask questions or say silly things but until last week I rarely got more out of either one than giggles, bathroom noises and sounds of protest.  (They’re only 4 and 7, so my expectations were low – their mother and uncles were no better at those young ages.)

However last week, the annual Washington Post word redefinition contest was brought to my attention (very punny!) and one of the redefined words was Pokémon. Some samples:

Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokémon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

Remembering our Christmas together, when the little ones sucked their uncles into becoming Pokéman players, and remembering that Pikachu and Pupitar were P-characters with evocative names, I decided I should write a Pokémon P-post. So I called my young expert, Alexander, for details.

WOW. He talked my ear off for half an hour. “Are you writing this down, Grandma? Do you want me to spell “Pupitar” for you?”  Among other things, I learned that:

“Pupitar is a hard-shelled rock-ground type of Pokémon, and that by building up gas in his body he can shoot himself like a rocket [giggles]. He expels the gas from his butt. This is how he attacks:  bite, leer, sandstorm, screech, rockslide, scary face, thrash, dark pulse, payback, crunch, earthquake, stone edge, hyper beam.”

Leer? Alexander did not know what “leer” meant, but he said quite a few Pokemon characters attack by leering.

Now here’s the question… how would you redefine the words Pickachu and Pupitar?

Here’s a shot from Christmas – the uncles in an intense Pokémon battle. Alexander coaches from the sidelines.

Uncles play Pokemon with Alexander

Uncles play Pokemon with Alexander

Update: loyal reader Susan takes on the redefinition challenge:

Pickachu: deciding whether to buy Wrigley’s or Chiclets gum.

Pun (Paronomasia!) RFP: your contributions?

Pun: n. a form of word play that deliberately exploits ambiguity between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect. Also known (by an erudite few) as paronomasia. By definition, puns must be deliberate; an involuntary substitution of similar words is called a malapropism, after the verbally challenged Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan’s 1798 comedy “The Rivals”.

Paronomasia: n. a play on words. (From Greek,  para beside + onoma name  – to call with a slight change of name).

The pun is often disparagingly referred to as “the lowest form of wit” – which my dad loved twisting into “a bun is the lowest form of wheat.”

Knock-knock jokes are almost always based on puns:


Who’s there?


Alaska who?

Alaska no questions, you tell me no lies.

The customary response to a pun is a groan, hence they’re often called “groaners.”

So here’s my groaner. Last week I had waited days for FedEx to bring me a 1 gig memory chip so my laptop would have enough oomph to do a presentation. When it finally arrived, hours before my deadline, I called my daughter triumphantly, “My chip has come in!”

I know you can do better..