List of forms of word play

This is a list of techniques used in word play.

Techniques that involve the phonetic values of words

  • Mondegreen: a mishearing (usually unintentional) as a homophone or near-homophone that has as a result acquired a new meaning. The term is often used to refer specifically to mishearings of song lyrics (cf. soramimi).
  • Onomatopoeia: a word or a grouping of words that imitates the sound it is describing
  • Rhyme: a repetition of identical or similar sounds in two or more different words
    • Alliteration: matching consonants sounds at the beginning of words
    • Assonance: matching vowel sounds
    • Consonance: matching consonant sounds
    • Holorime: a rhyme that encompasses an entire line or phrase
  • Spoonerism: a switch of two sounds in two different words (cf. sananmuunnos)
  • Janusism: the use of phonetics to create a humorous word (e.g. BOREneo from Borneo)
  • Oronyms: homophones of multiple words or phrases (as sometimes seen in word games)

Techniques that involve the letters

  • Acronym: abbreviations formed by combining the initial components in a phrase or name
    • RAS syndrome: repetition of a word by using it both as a word alone and as a part of the acronym
    • Recursive acronym: an acronym that has the acronym itself as one of its components
  • Acrostic: a writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line can be put together to spell out another message
    • Mesostic: a writing in which a vertical phrase intersects lines of horizontal text
    • Word square: a series of letters arranged in the form of a square that could be read both vertically and horizontally
  • Backronym: a phrase back-formed by treating a word that is originally not an initialism or acronym as one
    • Replacement backronym: a phrase back-formed from an existing initialism or acronym that is originally an abbreviation with another meaning
  • Anagram: rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase
    • Ambigram: a word which can be read just as well mirrored or upside down
    • Blanagram: rearranging the letters of a word or phrase and substituting one single letter to produce a new word or phrase
    • Letter bank: using the letters from a certain word or phrase as many times as wanted to produce a new word or phrase
    • Jumble: a kind of word game in which the solution of a puzzle is its anagram
  • Chronogram: a phrase or sentence in which some letters can be interpreted as numerals and rearranged to stand for a particular date
  • Gramogram: a word or sentence in which the names of the letters or numerals are used to represent the word
  • Lipogram: a writing in which certain letter is missing
    • Univocalic: a type of poetry that uses only one vowel
  • Palindrome: a word or phrase that reads the same in either direction
  • Pangram: a sentence which uses every letter of the alphabet at least once
  • Tautogram: a phrase or sentence in which every word starts with the same letter

Techniques that involve semantics and the choosing of words

  • Anglish: a writing using exclusively words of Germanic origin
  • Auto-antonym: a word that contains opposite meanings
  • Autogram: a sentence that provide an inventory of its own characters
  • Irony
  • Malapropism: incorrect usage of a word by substituting a similar-sounding word with different meaning
  • Neologism: creating new words
    • Phono-semantic matching: camouflaged/pun borrowing in which a foreign word is matched with a phonetically and semantically similar pre-existent native word (related to folk etymology)
    • Portmanteau: a new word that fuses two words or morphemes
    • Retronym: creating a new word to denote an old object or concept whose original name has come to be used for something else
  • Oxymoron: a combination of two contradictory terms
  • Pun: deliberately mixing two similar-sounding words
  • Slang: the use of informal words or expressions

Techniques that involve the manipulation of the entire sentence or passage

Techniques that involve the formation of a name

  • Ananym: a name with reversed letters of an existing name
  • Aptronym: a name that aptly represents a person or character
  • Charactonym: a name which suggests the personality traits of a fictional character
  • Eponym: applying a person's name to a place
  • Pseudonym: an artificial fictitious name, used as an alternative to one's legal name
  • Sobriquet: a popularized nickname

Techniques that involves figure of speech

  • Conversion (word formation): a transformation of a word of one word class into another word class
  • Dysphemism: intentionally using a word or phrase with a harsher tone over one with a more polite tone
  • Euphemism: intentionally using a word or phrase with a more polite tone over one with a harsher tone
  • Kenning: circumlocution used in Old Norse and Icelandic poetry
  • Paraprosdokian: a sentence whose latter part is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe the first


See alsoEdit