Figure Name paranomasia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Peacham (1593); Ad Herennium (301-309); JG Smith (1665) ("paronomasia"); Ad Herennium 4.21-22.29-31 ("adnominatio"); Rutil. 1.3; Isidore 1.36.12; Fraunce (1588) 1.24 ("paronomasia," "agnominatio," "allusion"); Putt. (1589) 212 ("prosonomasia," "the nicknamer"); Day 1599 86 ("prosonomasia"); Hoskins (1599)15; Macbeth (1876) ("paranomasia," "pun"); Blount (1653) 10; Kellog (1880) ("pun")
Earliest Source
Synonyms prosonomasia, adnominatio or agnominatio, allusio, the nicknamer, allusion, pun
Etymology from Gk. para, "alongside" and onomos, "name" ("to alter slightly in naming")
Type None
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Paranomasia is a figure which declineth into a contrarie by a likelihood of letters, either added, changed, or taken away.
This figure is commonly used to illude by the Addition, change and taking away. This figure ought to be sparingly used, and especially in grave and weightie causes, both in the respect of the light and illuding forme, and also forasmuch as it seemeth not to be found without meditation and affected labor.
As the use ought to be rare, so the allusion ought not to be tumbled out at adventure. Also heede ought to be taken of whom it is used, and against whom it is applied. (Peacham)

2. Paronomasia is the figure in which, by means of a modification of sound, or change of letters, a close resemblance to a given verb or noun is produced, so that similar words express dissimilar things. This is accomplished by many different methods:(a) by thinning or contracting the same letter,(b) by expanding the same letter, (c) by lengthening the same letter,(d) by shortening the same letter, (e) by adding letters, (f) by omitting letters, (g) by transposing letters, (h) by changing letters. (Ad Herennium)

3. Paronomasia, likenesse of words: a figure when by the change of one letter or syllable in a word, the signification also is much altered, &c. ; (Page 102 missing) (JG Smith)

4. Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning). The Ad Herennium author further specifies that this is brought about through various kinds of metaplasm. (Silva Rhetoricae)

5. Paranomasia, the Pun, we have at length arrived at: emphatically, the wit of words; a trick of verbal cleverness, founded on the circumstance of two or more words of similar sound having difference meanings. (Macbeth)

6. "PARANOMASIA is a present touch of the same letter, syllable or word, with a different meaning." (Blount)

7. A pun is a witty expression in which a word agreeing in sound with another is used in place of it. Words agreeing in sound, but differing in meaning, are called homonyms. Into a pun, not only is the homonym of some word imported, but, if there are any words which should accompany the homonym to identify it, these also are brought along to complete the incongruity and the ludicrousness of the expression. There must be consonance of sound to produce a pun, but perhaps we should qualify our definition by adding that the agreement of sound may be between a syllable and a word, between one word and a group of words, between two groups, or between one word or group and another, misspelled and mispronounced, but still capable of being recognized. (Kellog, 163)


1. Added thus, be sure of his sword, before you trust him of his word. (Peacham)

1. So fine a launderer, should not be a slanderer. Changed thus, More bold in a butterie then in a batterie. A fit witnesse, a fit witlesse. Taken away, thus, This is not stumbling, but plaine tumbling. (Peacham)

2. (a) " Hie qui se magnifice iactat atque ostentat, venit antequam Romam venit" (Ad Herennium)

2. (b)"Hie quos homines alea vincit, eos ferro
statim vincit" (Ad Herennium)

2. (c) " Hinc avium dulcedo ducit ad avium" (Ad Herennium)

2. (d) " Hie, tametsi videtur esse honoris cupidus, tantum tamen curiam diligit quantum Ciiriam?" (Ad Herennium)

2. (e) "Hie sibi posset temperare, nisi amori
mallet obtemperare" (Ad Herennium)

2. (f) "Si lenones vitasset tamquam leones, vitae tradidisset se" (Ad Herennium)

2. (g) "Videte, iudices, utrum homini navo an vano credere malitis" (Ad Herennium)

2. (h) "Deligere oportet quern velis dilicrere." (Ad Herennium)

4. A jesting friar punned upon the name of the famous humanist Erasmus, "Errans mus" [erring mouse]. — (Puttenham qtd in Silva Rhetoricae)

4. A pun is its own reword. (Silva Rhetoricae)

5. A certain law lord in Scotland was noted for his pompous way of speaking. Telling Harry Erskine one day that an acquaintance had fallen from a stile and sprained his ankle, said Erskine:
"It is a mercy he did not fall from your style, else he would have broke his neck." (Macbeth)

6. "Hector, Hanno, Haniball dead, / Pompey, Pyrrhus spild, / Cyrus, Scipio, Caesar slain, / And Alexander kill'd." (Blount)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures figures of separation, metaplasm
Notes Trope, Chroma, or Scheme? There's this figure and one called "paronomasia." Should they be combined? -sam
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No