Puns and wordplay are not contemporary inventions. If you flip through the pages of historical texts, you will likely find quite a few funny jokes. While some of these jokes and puns didn’t age so well, others are still capable to crack a genuine smile. Here are 10 of our favorite puns about and from history that are still as funny as ever.
1. "Immanuel doesn't pun, he Kant."
This quote is referring to the famous Enlightenment-era philosopher Immanuel Kant. As for the author of the clever pun itself - it is credited to Oscar Wilde himself.
2. "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."
You're surely familiar with this one! You may even be aware that it's believed to have been uttered by Mark Twain, but there is, actually, no evidence to confirm that information. Historians tried to trace the etymology of this joke, and they managed to find it in a newspaper joke contest in 1931. The author of the pun remains unknown.
3. "A Roman walks into a bar. He holds up two fingers and says, 'Five beers, please!'"
This is a modern take on life in Ancient Rome, but it's quite clever - we must give credit where credit is due. The punchline refers to the resemblance of the Roman numeral for five to a "V" (or a peace sign). Hence, only two fingers are necessary to make the gesture.
4. "If you're going through hell, keep going."
We love when a good pun is also a great piece of advice. This clever zinger is just that case! The wise saying is usually credited to Sir Winston Churchill himself, although language history experts weren't able to confirm that the British prime minister had actually said it.
5. "Why were the early days of history called The Dark Ages? Because there were so many knights."
A simple and classic pun is sometimes all we need to crack a smile! You may call this one a dad joke, but honestly, few things can beat a good old-fashioned dad joke, at least in our opinion.
6. "Why should the number 288 never be mentioned in company? Because it is two gross."
Believe it or not, this mathematical witticism dates all the way back to the Victorian Era. Even though we don't know the exact author of this 19th-century pun, we can say with complete confidence that this zinger is still able to make a math enthusiast laugh wholeheartedly!
7. "We Polked you in '44, we shall Pierce you in '52."
This historic pun cost the presidential candidate General Winfield Scott his presidency. This is because it was successfully used as a campaign slogan by the Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce during the 1852 elections. The pun refers to James K. Polk’s 1844 campaign, putting a fun spin on it. If there was ever a worthy pun to change American history, this is it!
8. "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man."
The fact that William Shakespeare was a big fan of puns and witticisms will probably surprise no one. If you read through his masterpieces, you'll find many a clever saying. This specific pun is from Romeo and Juliet. It is uttered by Mercutio, who has just suffered a mortal wound in a duel with Tybalt.
9. "- If April showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring? - Pilgrims."
I'm sure many of you have already caught the punchline of this superb rib-tickler, but the May flowers are a direct reference to the Mayflower - the ship that brought the first pilgrims to America in 1620.
10. "We must all hand together or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Benjamin Franklin was known for his edgy humor and ability to drop a joke into any conversation. So it's hardly surprising that this dark but witty quotation belongs to the founding father. Reportedly, this utterance was Franklin's way to call for unity right before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Share these clever puns and witticisms with others!