What are the functions of word games

Paronomasia

As Paronomasia, also paranomasia, is a rhetorical stylistic device that is used in all of the literary genres. Paronomasia describes a play on words in which similar or identical words are put together, some of which have opposite, but in each case different meanings. A special form is the Figura etymologica, which combines words of different parts of speech but of the same stem. The stylistic device is also related to the polyptoton.

Term & examples

The term is derived from the Greek paranomasia from which one consists of para (παρά) and onoma (ὄνομα) composed that deals with at and Surname translate. So it's about a word rearrangement in order to achieve a secondary meaning. Using a concrete example, it looks like this:


Better arm on than arm off

The example above is a play on words. Here the adjective (adjective) poor and the noun poor linked in one sentence. The words sound to a recipient (Listeners) same, but are etymological (Word origin) and semantically (Importance) unrelated. This creates a kind of pun. Another example:



The words Hurry and while sound almost the same. Only the first letter is different. Accordingly, there is paronomasia that brings together similar words that have nothing to do with each other semantically and etymologically. Because the two nouns are also mutually exclusive (because whoever lingers cannot hurry), in this case we are also dealing with an oxymoron.


[...] from the people of poets and thinkers to those of judges and executioners

This quote goes back to Karl Kraus, an Austrian writer. The word game connects pairs of words with one another. The saying People of poets and thinkers has been mainly used since the 20th century to commemorate the great times of the Classical and Romantic periods. Kraus modifies the content by using the similar words judge and executioner.

More examples of paronomasia(Folds out when you click!)
  • The river Rhine has become a torrent(Schiller)
  • The dioceses have been transformed into desolations(Schiller)
  • If you rest, you rust
  • between embarrassment and mendacity(Karl Kraus)
  • more favor than art(Karl Kraus)
  • MyTaxi picks you up app(Advertising)

Note: The last example does not mention the word it refers to (from). It has to be developed independently by the reader. Such statements and puns are often found in the language of advertising.

Paronomastic intensity genitive

As a paronomastic intensity genitive (Genitivus hebraicus) is a special form of paronomasia. This consists of a reference word to which the genitive is formed in the plural of the same word. The genitive serves to increase what is meant in absolute terms (see superlative).

If the stylistic figure is used in this way, one could certainly speak of an increase in the noun, which is actually not possible in German. However, this impression arises through the connection of the reference word and its genitive in the plural. Let's look at a few examples to illustrate this.


the king of kings.
the game of games.
the day of the days.
the book of books.
the battle of battles.
the house of houses.

All of the above examples meet the named characteristics. The first word is a noun and the reference word of the following word. This is in the plural (plural) and in the genitive. This can be checked with the question Whose?that asks the genitive (Ex .: Whose book is this? The Book of Books.).

Brief overview: The most important thing about the style figure at a glance
  • Paronomasia is a rhetorical stylistic device. Identical or similar words are combined here. So it is a kind of play on words. The individual words sometimes have opposite meanings, but in any case they are etymologically and semantically unrelated.
  • Such a play on words can seem witty, but in many cases it has a comical / witty effect. Especially when the whole thing boils down to a punch line. Paronomasia usually has a surprising effect and is a means of rhythmic and tonal design.
  • A special form of the figure is the Figura etymologica. Words of the same stem that belong to different parts of speech are connected to one another (Ex: play a game, fight a fight). However, these do not have to have different meanings. The cheated cheaters represent.
  • Another specialty is the paronomastic intensity genitive This consists of a reference word to which the genitive is formed in the plural of the same word. It is important that here, too, the individual words are synonymous and not opposed to each other.