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Encyclopedia > Double entendre

A double entendre is a figure of speech similar to the pun, in which a spoken phrase can be understood in either of two ways. This can be as simple as a phrase which has two mutually exclusive meanings, and is thus a clever play on words. An example of this would be the title of the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game", by Richard Connell, in which the title can refer both to the "game" that is most dangerous to hunt, and "game" that is most dangerous to play. A figure of speech, sometimes termed a rhetoric, or locution, is a word or phrase that departs from straightforward, literal language. ... For other uses, see Pun (disambiguation). ... Look up phrase in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the short story by Richard Connell. ... Richard Edward Connell, Jr. ... Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated (such as venison). ... For other uses, see Game (disambiguation). ...

In some cases a risqué or sexual element is central to the understanding of the double entendre. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as 'A double meaning; a word or phrase having a double sense, especially as used to convey an indelicate meaning' [emphasis added]. In these cases, the first meaning is presumed to be the more innocent one, while the second meaning is risqué, or at least ironic, requiring the hearer to have some additional knowledge. The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... Ironic redirects here. ...



When innuendo is used in a sentence, it could go completely undetected by someone who was not familiar with the hidden meaning, and he or she would find nothing odd about the sentence (aside from other people finding it humorous for seemingly no reason). Perhaps because an innuendo is not considered offensive to those who do not "get" the hidden implication, it is often prevalent in sitcoms and other comedy which would in fact be considered suitable for children. Children would find this comedy funny, but because most children lack understanding of the hidden implication in innuendo, they would find it funny for a completely different reason than most adult viewers. It can also be used to make more socially acceptable sexual humor. Shakespeare's play, "Much Ado about Nothing" used this ploy to present a surface level description of the play as well as a pun on the Elizabethan usage of "nothing" as slang for noticing. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about a genre of comedy. ... A comedy is a dramatic performance of a light and amusing character, usually with a happy conclusion to its plot. ... Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare. ...


Although "double entendre" was a French expression when adopted into English, and although both words are part of modern French, their use together has disappeared in French.[citation needed] Double retains the same meaning in French, and entendre translates to "to hear". French refers to such phrases with the term double sens (literally "double sense", i.e. "double meaning"),[citation needed] or double entente, (double or equivocal meaning; a play on words). [1][vague]

Historical usage

The title of Sir Thomas More's 1516 fictional work Utopia is a double entendre because of the pun between two Greek-derived words that would have identical pronunciation: with his spelling, it means "no place"[2] (as echoed later in Samuel Butler's later Erewhon); spelled as the rare word Eutopia, it is pronounced the same[3] by English-speaking readers, but has the meaning "good place". Portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478–6 July 1535), posthumously known also as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, author, and politician. ... For other uses, see Utopia (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Pun (disambiguation). ... Erewhon Hudibras, see Samuel Butler (poet). ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Erewhon Erewhon, or Over the Range is a novel by Samuel Butler, published anonymously in 1872. ... See Utopia (disambiguation) for other meanings of this word Utopia, in its most common and general meaning, refers to a hypothetical perfect society. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

The poem Ozymandias by Percy Shelley published in 1818 is an example of ironic double entendre. Looking upon the shattered ruins of a colossus, the traveller reads: This article is about Shelleys poem. ... Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822; pronounced ) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is widely considered to be among the finest lyric poets of the English language. ... The Colossus of Rhodes In ancient times it was supposed to have had 2 legs that spread across a harbor entry A poem was written about it and the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazarus called The New Colossus It was one of the ancient wonders of the world Category...

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

The speaker believes the king's sole intended meaning of "despair" was that nobody could hope to equal his achievements, but that the traveler found another meaning – that the mighty are mortal and will inevitably share his fate of oblivion in the sands of time. This portrayal of an unintended double entendre exemplifies a case of the double entendre as the poet's figure of speech.

Bawdy double entendres were the trademark of Mae West,[vague] in her early-career vaudeville performances as well as in her later movies. MAE-West is a major Internet peering point located in San Jose, California. ...

Modern usage

Double entendres have now become more popular in modern movies and television works, as a way to conceal adult humor in a work aimed at general audiences. The James Bond films are rife with such humour. For example, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), when Bond is disturbed by the telephone while in bed with a Danish girl, he explains that he's busy brushing up on his Danish, to which Moneypenny replies, "You always were a cunning linguist, James." (The premise is that cunning linguist sounds like cunnilingus.) In the end of the 1991 thriller, the Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lecter states he is "having an old friend for dinner", which could either mean he's is going to have dinner with an old friend, or the more likely meaning, is going to have an old friend for dinner. This article is about the spy series. ... Tomorrow Never Dies, released in 1997, is the eighteenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the second to star Pierce Brosnan as MI6 agent James Bond. ... Watercolour painting depicting cunnilingus by Achille Devéria Cunnilingus is the act of using the mouth, lips, and tongue to stimulate the female genitals. ... Year 1991 (MCMXCI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar. ... Thriller films are movies that primarily use action and suspense to engage the audience. ... The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. ... Hannibal The Cannibal Lecter, as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. ... Cannibal redirects here. ...

Another example would be "I broke a G-string while fingering A minor" which is a double entendre understood only by those who would understand that the G-string is a guitar string and A minor is a chord.

Many commercials for Overstock.com feature double entendres, as an attractive woman talks about the "O" and "Big O", which could refer to the website itself, but clearly call to mind the word "orgasm", which is often called the "O" or the "Big O". [4][5][6][7] Overstock. ... An orgasm (sexual climax) is the conclusion of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, and may be experienced by both males and females. ...

One popular joke that simultaneously contains and defines a double entendre typically is told as: "A girl walked into a bar and asked the bartender for a double entendre. So he gave her one."

British comedy

Sexual innuendo is common in British sitcoms and radio comedy such as I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and Round the Horne. For example, in Are You Being Served?, Mrs. Slocombe makes frequent references to her "pussy", such as "It's a wonder I'm here at all, you know. My pussy got soakin' wet. I had to dry it out in front of the fire before I left." Someone unfamiliar with sexual slang might find this statement funny simply because of the references to her pussy cat, whereas generally a viewer would be expected to detect the innuendo ("pussy" is sexual slang for Womans labia and vagina). British Comedy, in film, radio and television, is known for its consistently quirky characters, plots and settings, and has produced some of the most famous and memorable comic actors and characters in the last fifty years. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A British sitcom is a situation comedy (sitcom) produced in the United Kingdom. ... Radio comedy, or comedic radio programming, is a radio broadcast that may involve sitcom elements, sketches, and many other forms of comedy found on other mediums. ... Im Sorry I Havent a Clue, sometimes abbreviated to ISIHAC or simply Clue, is a BBC radio comedy which has run since April 11, 1972. ... Not to be confused with Around the Horn, an American sports programme. ... Are You Being Served? was a long-running British sitcom broadcast from 1972 to 1985. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Sexual slang is any slang term which makes reference to sex, the sexual organs, or matters closely related to them. ...

Flax on a distaff
Flax on a distaff

Innuendos have not only been used in modern times—there are riddles in Old English with different possible interpretations. Shakespeare used innuendos in his plays. Indeed, Sir Toby in Twelfth Night is seen saying, in reference to Sir Andrew's hair, that "it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I [Sir Toby] hope to see a housewife take thee [Sir Andrew] between her legs and spin it off;" the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet says that her husband had told Juliet when she was learning to walk that "Yea, dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;", or is told the time: "for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon"; and in Hamlet, Hamlet torments Ophelia with a series of sexual puns, viz. "country" (similar to "cunt.") Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2024x1742, 319 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Distaff User:Rl/Images Textile manufacturing ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2024x1742, 319 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Distaff User:Rl/Images Textile manufacturing ... Twelfth Night has at least three meanings: Twelfth Night (holiday), celebrated by some Christians Twelfth Night, or What You Will, a comedic play by William Shakespeare Twelfth Night (band), a progressive rock band This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the... For other uses, see Flax (disambiguation). ... Spinning Flax from a distaff As a noun, a distaff is a tool used in spinning. ... For other uses, see Romeo and Juliet (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Hamlet (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Cunt is an English language vulgarism most commonly used in reference to vulva or vagina and, more generally, the pubis, from the mons veneris to the perineum. ...

Attitudes to this kind of humour have changed enormously since the 19th century. In the Victorian theatre, innuendo was considered unpleasant, particularly for the ladies in the audience, and was not allowed. In the music hall, on the other hand, innuendo was in constant use in songs. Music Hall in this context is to be contrasted with Variety, the one common, low-class and vulgar; the other demi-monde, worldly and sometimes chic. Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India Victorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837 - 1901) in particular, and to the moral climate of Great Britain throughout the 19th century in... Music Hall is a form of British theatrical entertainment which reached its peak of popularity between 1850 and 1960. ... Music Hall is a form of British theatrical entertainment which reached its peak of popularity between 1850 and 1960. ... A variety show is a show with a variety of acts, often including music and comedy skits, especially on television. ... A social class is, at its most basic, a group of people that have similar social status. ... The term vulgar originally meant of the common people, from the Latin vulgus. ... The term demimonde is usually associated with women of questionable morals. ... Chic is a French word, established in English since at least the 1870s, that has come to mean smart or stylish. ...

In the 20th century, there began to be a bit of a crackdown on lewdness, including some prosecutions. It was the job of the Lord Chamberlain to examine the scripts of all plays for indecency. The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom, and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State. ...

Nevertheless, some comedians still continued to get away with it. Max Miller, famously, had two books of jokes, a white book and a blue book, and would ask his audience which book they wanted to hear stories from. If they chose the blue book, it was their own choice and he could feel reasonably secure he was not offending anyone. Max Miller, the Cheeky Chappie, was a 1930s English music hall comedian famous for his daringly risqué (for the period) repertoire (see Censorship), and gaudy suits. ...

The blue, innuendo type of humour did not transfer to radio or cinema at that time, but eventually and progressively it began to filter through from the late 1950s and 1960s. Particularly significant in this respect were the Carry On films and the BBC radio series Round the Horne, although this humour is carried because of the apparent "nonsense" language that the protagonists use but in fact are having a "rude" conversation in Polari (gay slang). Spike Milligan, writer of The Goon Show, has remarked that a lot of blue innuendo came from servicemen's jokes, which were understood by most of the cast (who had all served as enlisted soldiers) and many of the audience, but which would pass over the heads of most of the BBC producers and directors, who were mostly "Officer class." The Carry On films were a long-running series of British low-budget comedy films, directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Not to be confused with Around the Horn, an American sports programme. ... Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palarie, Palari, Parlyaree[1], from Italian parlare, to talk) was a form of cant slang used in the gay subculture in Britain. ... Terence Alan Patrick Seán Milligan KBE (16 April 1918–27 February 2002), known as Spike Milligan, was an Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet and playwright. ... The Goon Show was a popular and influential British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC from 1951 to 1960 on the BBC Home Service. ...

In 1968, the office of the Lord Cumberland ceased to have responsibility for censoring live entertainment. By the 1970s innuendo had become widely pervasive across much of the British media. A stilt-walker entertaining shoppers at a shopping centre in Swindon, England Entertainment is an activity designed to give pleasure or relaxation to an audience (although in the case of a computer game the audience may be only one person). ...

Finbarr Saunders is a comic strip in the British comic book Viz which makes great play upon Double entendres. Finbarr Saunders is a comic strip in the British comic book VIZ. It is about a boy (Finbarr) who is always listening in on conversations (often between his divorced mother and their neighbour, Mr. ... This article is about the comic strip, the sequential art form as published in newspapers and on the Internet. ... A comic book is a magazine or book containing the art form of comics. ... Cover of Viz (issue 57) Viz is a popular British adult comic magazine that has been running since 1979. ...

Triple entendre

A triple entendre is a rare variation of a double entendre where a phrase can be understood in any of three ways. An example of this would be the cover of the 1981 Rush album Moving Pictures. The title could be read to mean a moving crew transporting paintings, emotional (moving) reactions to the paintings, or a film. Another example is from a famous T-shirt at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when women first were accepted. The phrase on the shirt, "women multiply at MIT" could mean that women literally multiply numbers, that more and more women are coming to MIT (and the number of women is multiplying), or that women are having children at MIT. Image File history File links Mergefrom. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Rush is a Canadian rock band originally formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario; presently comprised of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. ... Moving Pictures is the eighth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1981 (see 1981 in music). ... “MIT” redirects here. ...

Theoretically, an "entendre" could be extended indefinitely beyond the triple entendre to encompass quadruple entendres, quintuple entendres, et cetera. For the sake of brevity, however, entendres beyond the triple entendre are often referred to as "N-entendres" or "double-n-tendres".

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Look up Double entendre in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... An Albur in Mexico is a word game consisting of a double entendre, usually with a sexual undertone. ... Doublespeak (sometimes double talk) is language constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass. ... A euphemism is the substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listener;[1] or in the case of doublespeak, to make it less troublesome for the speaker. ... For other uses, see Pun (disambiguation). ... A spoonerism is a play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see metathesis). ... Word play is a literary technique in which the nature of the words used themselves become part of the subject of the work. ...


  1. ^ Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, 1957
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster's Online Search
  3. ^ A. D. Cousins, Macquarie University. "Utopia." The Literary Encyclopedia. 25 Oct. 2004. The Literary Dictionary Company. 3 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Slate.com"
  5. ^ "Super Bowl ad on ifilm"
  6. ^ "bsalert.com"
  7. ^ "Article on FoxNews"

  Results from FactBites:
Reference for Double entendre - Search.com (1831 words)
A double entendre is a figure of speech similar to the pun, in which a spoken phrase can be understood in either of two ways.
While the phrase "double entendre" has become common in the vocabulary of everyday English, "double entendre" is in fact incorrect for "double entente", which in French translates to "a double or equivocal meaning; a play on words".
Bawdy double entendres were the trademark of Mae West, in her early-career vaudeville performances as well as in her later movies.
Double entendre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1473 words)
A double entendre is a figure of speech similar to the pun, in which a spoken phrase can be understood in either of two ways.
One of the earliest examples of double entendre in American culture was the late 19th-century vaudeville act, the Barrison Sisters.
Double entendres are also used in an episode of the popular animation show King of the Hill (which is also created by Mike Judge).
  More results at FactBites »



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