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Double Entendre Definition
Derived from French to mean “double meaning,” a double entendre is a word, phrase or expression that has two interpretations, i.e. one meaning is obvious while the other one is hidden and employs innuendo as well as requires more thought. The innuendo-coded meaning is usually sexually suggestive, socially offensive or indelicate in nature, although it is not necessarily rude. When three meanings are derived, this is called “triple entendre,” and so on.
To convey the second meaning of a double entendre, the speaker or writer may use puns and choose words that have multiple meanings or words whose primary meaning has different interpretations. Ambiguity may also be used and may be deliberately incorporated into the text for emphasis. Other authors also use homophones to express double entendres. A homophone is one of two or more words pronounced alike but differ in meaning, derivation or spelling.
Here are some examples of double entendres:
- “Tis better to have love and lust,
Than to let our apparatus rust.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian
- “Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.”
― L. Frank Baum
- “A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he’s finished.”
― Zsa Zsa Gabor
The hidden or alternative meaning of a double entendre may not be easy to recognize or detect for some people, making it less or non-offensive. This is why this rhetorical device makes a good humour element in comedy shows or sitcoms as some audience may become too engrossed with the humour that they fail to notice the secondary meaning of the expression.
Double entendre vs. pun
Although both double entendre and pun are about “double meanings,” their differences lie in the second meaning of the expression. In a double entendre, the second meaning is usually sexual suggestive, insulting or socially awkard. For example, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan repeats the line “Everybody must get stoned” in his somewhat controversial song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” Here, the line could mean the punishment of execution by stoning or to ‘get stoned’, i.e. get high on cannabis.
A pun, on the other hand, is more conservative and is centered on humor or clean, silly jokes. Here’s an example: What did the ram said to his girlfriend? I love ewe.
Double Entendre Usage
The general function of a double entendre is to articulate one meaning clearly and insinuate another meaning indirectly. Double entendres have been used by many authors and playwrights of different cultures for hundreds and even thousands of years. In literature, double entendre examples are used to add a sense of humour or to make a character appear witty and intelligent. Back in the Victorian era, the use of innuendos was banned in literary works and stage performances, to avoid offending the ladies, and violators could be subjected to prosecution. However, the use of double entendres back then was still popular, as evident in classic works like the following:
- “No one has hurt me!” (the Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey)
- “‘Tis no less, I tell you; for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon.” (Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 3)
- “Lady, shall I lie in your lap?” (Hamlet to Ophelia in Hamlet, Act III)
Nowadays, this literary device has remained timeless as it is still widely used in movies, music lyrics, TV shows, sitcoms and other comedy shows and even in speeches. They can also be present in daily conversations, specifically when a speaker wants to inject humour into a conversation or attempts to sound smart or clever.
Double Entendre Worksheets
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use double entendre worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what double entendre is and how it can be used. You can use these double entendre worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Double Entendre Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 8, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.