Double Entendre

Team English - Examples.com
Created by: Team English - Examples.com, Last Updated: June 4, 2024

Double Entendre

What Is a Double Entendre?

A phrase or remark is said to have double entendre if it may be interpreted in two different ways, one of which is meant to be taken literally and the other of which is meant to be understood literally but in an unpleasant manner. By employing witty wordplay, phrases, synonyms, homophones, or words that sound very similar to one another, a writer may choose to leave it up to the reader to decipher a statement that has more than one meaning.

Pronunciation of  Double Entendre

The term “double entendre” is pronounced as \ˌdü-bəl-äⁿ-ˈtäⁿ(d)rə. Here’s a breakdown to make it easier to understand how to say it:

  • The first word “double” sounds like “doo-bul,” which rhymes with “trouble.”
  • The second word “entendre” is a French-derived word, pronounced as “ahn-TAHN-druh.”

Put together, it sounds like “doo-bul ahn-TAHN-druh.”

Synonyms & Antonyms for Double Entendre

Synonyms & Antonyms for Double Entendre

Synonyms Antonyms
Pun Literal statement
Wordplay Direct statement
Innuedo Clarity
Play on words Explicitness
Quibble Unambiguous statement
Equivocation Clear expression
Ambiguity Definiteness

Synonyms

  1. Pun: A play on words that exploits similar sounding words or multiple meanings for a humorous or rhetorical effect.
  2. Wordplay: The clever manipulation of language with humorous or ingenious twists, often involving puns or ambiguities.
  3. Innuendo: An indirect or subtle reference, typically one implying something improper or sexual.
  4. Play on words: Similar to a pun, this involves using words that sound alike or have multiple meanings to create humor or another effect.
  5. Quibble: A minor objection or criticism about a trivial matter, often based on a play on words.
  6. Equivocation: Using ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself.
  7. Ambiguity: The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; deliberately vague or unclear.

Antonyms

  1. Literal statement: A statement that means exactly what it says, without any hidden meanings or interpretations.
  2. Direct statement: Communication that is straightforward and clear, without any ambiguity or subtlety.
  3. Clarity: The quality of being clear and easy to understand, often used in contrast to ambiguity or confusion.
  4. Explicitness: The quality of being clear and explicit, leaving no room for confusion or doubt.
  5. Unambiguous statement: A statement or remark that is clear and has only one possible interpretation.
  6. Clear expression: Speaking or writing in a way that is easily understood, without any obscurity or ambiguity.
  7. Definiteness: The quality of being precise and well-defined, with no possibility of misunderstanding.

Double Entendre vs. Pun

Aspect Double Entendre Pun
Definition A phrase that has two meanings, one often being suggestive or hidden. A joke exploiting words with similar sounds but different meanings.
Use Used to subtly hint at a risqué or secondary meaning. Used to create humor through wordplay.
Effect Makes the audience think and often adds a layer of sophistication or humor. Generates laughs by playing with the sounds and meanings of words.
Context Often found in adult humor, movies, and literature where subtlety is valued. Common in jokes, comedy, and casual conversation for light-hearted fun.
Intent To subtly suggest something additional or hidden, often with a touch of irony. To entertain and amuse by cleverly manipulating language.

Examples of Double Entendre in Rap

Double entendres are a clever technique in rap lyrics where artists use wordplay to deliver multiple meanings or clever twists. Here are ten examples that show how rappers use double entendres to add depth and humor to their songs:

  1. Jay-Z – “99 Problems”
    • “I got 99 problems but a b**** ain’t one.”
    • Jay-Z cleverly uses the word to refer both to a woman and to any type of problem, showing he’s untroubled by petty issues.
  2. Kanye West – “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”
    • “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!”
    • Kanye highlights his personal brand and success, implying he himself is a walking enterprise.
  3. Eminem – “Lose Yourself”
    • “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment / You own it, you better never let it go.”
    • Eminem plays on the words “lose” and “own” to emphasize giving everything to seize the moment in life.
  4. Drake – “Used To”
    • “Thought I left my keys at the club, but I got the door still.”
    • Drake uses “door” metaphorically to talk about maintaining access or opportunities in his life.
  5. Lil Wayne – “6 Foot 7 Foot”
    • “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.”
    • Lil Wayne points out the silent “g” in lasagna to describe how true gangsters keep their moves secret.
  6. Nicki Minaj – “Only”
    • “I never fd Wayne, I never fd Drake.”
    • Nicki uses this line to cleverly address and dismiss rumors about her relationships.
  7. Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools”
    • “Pool full of liquor then you dive in it.”
    • Kendrick uses “dive” to discuss both literally jumping into a pool and metaphorically immersing oneself in alcohol.
  8. Big L – “Ebonics”
    • “If you 730, that means you crazy.”
    • Big L uses “730” as slang derived from a police code, indicating someone is unstable.
  9. Childish Gambino – “Bonfire”
    • “Made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony.”
    • This line uses a dark metaphor, comparing his dominance in music to a controversial criminal case.
  10. J. Cole – “No Role Modelz”
  • “Fool me one time, shame on you / Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you.”
  • J. Cole reinterprets a common saying to discuss accountability and deception.

Examples of Double Entendre in Sentences

  1. “If you take a photo of the mountain, I’m sure it will peak everyone’s interest.”
    • Plays on the words “peak” (the top of the mountain) and “pique” (to stimulate interest).
  2. “She’s really good at sleeping in other people’s beds; you could say she can lie with the best of them.”
    • Uses “lie” to mean both telling falsehoods and physically lying down.
  3. “The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.”
    • “Behind” refers to both falling behind in work and literally his backside.
  4. “You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish, unless of course, you play bass.”
    • A classic pun playing on “tune a/tuna” and referencing “bass” the fish and “bass” the instrument.
  5. “I’d tell you a chemistry joke but I know I wouldn’t get a reaction.”
    • Uses “reaction” in the sense of both a chemical process and a response from the listener.
  6. “At the bakery, she said she kneaded bread, which was quite a dough-ful task.”
    • Plays on “kneaded” (to work dough) and “needed” (require), with “dough-ful” sounding like “doubtful.”
  7. “The grape didn’t want to get crushed, but it ended up wine-ing about it.”
    • “Wine-ing” sounds like “whining,” which is what the grape does after being crushed to make wine.
  8. “The electrician is a good conductor; he always stays current.”
    • Uses “conductor” for its meanings both in conducting electricity and leading, “current” as in electrical flow and up-to-date.
  9. “He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.”
    • A play on “Mercedes Benz” and how the car bends or gets damaged.
  10. “The midget fortune teller who kills his customers is a small medium at large.”
    • Uses “small medium at large” to describe his physical stature, his job, and his fugitive status.

Examples of Double Entendre in literature

Double entendres in literature are clever uses of language where phrases have two meanings—one obvious and another more subtle or hidden, often adding humor or deeper significance to the text. Here are some accessible examples from well-known literary works:

  1. William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”:
    • When Hamlet tells Ophelia to go to a “nunnery,” he’s not just suggesting she become a nun; he’s also implying she should go to a brothel, reflecting his cynical view of women.
  2. Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Canterbury Tales”:
    • A character reminisces about their “jolity,” which can mean both fun and youthful escapades, including sexual adventures, highlighting the playful and sometimes risqué nature of Chaucer’s work.
  3. Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”:
    • A character jokes about leading a “double life,” hinting not just at the secret lives people lead but also poking fun at Victorian moral hypocrisy.
  4. Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice”:
    • The phrase “make sport for our neighbors” humorously suggests both entertaining and mocking others, a nod to the social games people play.
  5. Mark Twain, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”:
    • Huck Finn learns that “you can’t pray a lie,” a statement about both the ineffectiveness of insincere prayer and a deeper commentary on personal integrity.
  6. Ernest Hemingway, “The Sun Also Rises”:
    • A character sarcastically notes another isn’t a “moron” but just “arrested development,” using the phrase to both soften and sharpen his insult.
  7. F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”:
    • Describing Gatsby as an “elegant young rough-neck” contrasts his polished appearance with his less sophisticated origins, illustrating Gatsby’s complex identity.
  8. Joseph Heller, “Catch-22”:
    • “Catch-22” describes both a specific absurd military rule and, more broadly, any no-win situation, highlighting the absurdity of bureaucratic logic.
  9. Charles Dickens, “Oliver Twist”:
    • Calling the law “a ass—a idiot” uses “ass” in the sense of both a foolish person and a stubborn animal, criticizing the justice system’s ineffectiveness.
  10. William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”:
    • When a character asks for “some confidence” with another, he’s requesting a private conversation but also alluding to building trust, enriching the dialogue with layers of meaning

Examples of Double Entendre in Music

  1. “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
    • The title itself is a double entendre, suggesting both a lack of contentment and sexual frustration.
  2. “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
    • This song’s title is a straightforward invitation to intimacy, but it also carries a playful sexual connotation.
  3. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
    • On the surface, it’s a sweet and innocent expression of affection, but it can also be interpreted as a euphemism for more intimate desires.
  4. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
    • The lyrics suggest adding sugar as a metaphor for physical affection or desire, creating a playful and suggestive tone.
  5. “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
    • The lyrics contain numerous sexual innuendos, with phrases like “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love” hinting at physical intimacy.
  6. “Like a Virgin” by Madonna
    • Madonna plays with the idea of virginity in this song, using it metaphorically to express feelings of newfound love and excitement.
  7. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar
    • While the title suggests a challenge or confrontation, it also carries a sexual undertone, adding an element of flirtation to the song.
  8. “Oops!… I Did It Again” by Britney Spears
    • The lyrics playfully suggest that the singer has made a mistake, but they also hint at a deliberate teasing or seductive behavior.
  9. “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
    • Marvin Gaye uses the metaphor of “healing” to describe the power of physical intimacy to mend emotional wounds, creating a sensual double entendre.
  10. “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa
    • The title and lyrics of this song can be interpreted both literally, as a command to dance energetically, and figuratively, with sexual undertones.

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Funny Examples of Double Entendre

  1. “I really wanted a camouflage shirt, but I couldn’t find one.”
    • This joke plays on the literal purpose of camouflage, which is not to be seen.
  2. “I’m reading a book on anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.”
    • Uses the concept of anti-gravity to suggest the book is so good that you can’t stop reading it.
  3. “I’d tell you a construction pun, but I’m still working on it.”
    • The pun is on “working,” referring both to constructing the joke and construction work.
  4. “You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless, of course, you play bass.”
    • A classic pun on the sound-alike words “tune a” and “tuna,” with an added twist on “bass” the fish and the instrument.
  5. “I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.”
    • Plays on “changed my mind” both as a decision and literally changing one’s brain.
  6. “This graveyard looks overcrowded. People must be dying to get in.”
    • A humorous observation about cemeteries that plays on the phrase “dying to get in,” meaning a keen eagerness.
  7. “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
    • A humorous ambiguity that plays on the word “flies,” first as a verb related to time passing quickly and then as a noun describing insects that are attracted to fruit.
  8. “I used to play piano by ear, but now I use my hands.”
    • Jokes about the phrase “playing by ear,” which means to play music without reading the musical notation, but humorously taken literally.
  9. “I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.”
    • This joke uses “stop any time” to refer both to the function of brake fluid in a vehicle and the ability to quit an addiction.
  10. “I’m on a whiskey diet. I’ve lost three days already.”
    • This joke plays on “losing weight” with a diet, but instead, the speaker is losing track of time due to drinking.

When Do We Use Double Entendre

Double entendres are a witty way to convey two meanings at once, often adding humor or a hidden message to a conversation. Here are some typical situations where double entendres are used:

  1. Comedy and Entertainment: In comedy shows or films, double entendres are used to add a layer of adult humor. This makes the content enjoyable on different levels, appealing to a broader audience.
  2. Advertising: Advertisers often use double entendres in slogans to make their ads catchy and memorable. Sometimes, these phrases have a playful or suggestive second meaning that makes the ad stand out.
  3. Literature and Plays: Writers and playwrights use double entendres to give their words deeper meaning or to subtly address controversial topics. This technique can make the text more engaging and thought-provoking.
  4. Casual Conversations: People sometimes use double entendres in everyday chat for a bit of fun or light-hearted flirting. It adds a spark of humor and can make the interaction more lively.
  5. Speeches: In speeches, especially in sensitive or political contexts, speakers may use double entendres to diplomatically address tricky subjects. This allows them to comment on issues without being too direct, making their point in a clever way.

How to use Double Entendre

The use of double entendres is a literary method that, depending on the context, may either advance the plot of the tale, provide an air of mystery to the writing, or enhance the text’s humorous value. In some situations, the second meaning of a double entendre is conveyed as an inference via the use of a figure of speech. This kind of figure of speech is known as a “double entendre.”

Step 1: Use wordplay

A deeper inspection of a double entendre often reveals a racy undercurrent. As a kind of wordplay, they may help you create a lighthearted or cheeky mood in your work. Some common forms of the figure of speech like metaphors, metonymies, synecdoches, similes, and even rhetorical questions are also typically used by authors to employ double entendre.

Step 2: Make it funny

Double entendre is most common in comedy shows to add humor to characterization. As Marge was preparing to board a ship to Skull Island in an episode of The Simpsons, Smithers used the homophone for “seminal fluid” to say, “I think women and seamen don’t mix.”

Step 3: Write something that sounds inappropriate but really isn’t

One of the connotations is often obscene or otherwise inappropriate. In Finding Nemo, Dory orders the other character  “Ok, everyone, think dirty thoughts!” The denotation is thoughts that will in the sense make the tank literally dirty, but adult viewers will understand that the term can also refer to inappropriate ideas.

Step 4: Follow up with something that’ll remove the otherwise inappropriate impression

“Your melons sound fantastic, and I’d want to see them.” You can then follow this up with a sentence right after like “David said to the fruit and vegetable merchant.”

FAQs

What is the meaning of Entendre?

Originating in French, the term “double entendre” means “a twofold meaning” or “double meaning.” “entendre” may mean in verb tenses “to hear,” “to understand,” or “to mean” in French. Although “entente” is still in use, “entendre” has fallen out of favor in French.

How do you use double entendre in a sentence?

The term “double entendre” refers to a word or phrase that may be interpreted in more than one way depending on the context in which it is used. One of them is impolite and often exhibits a demeanor that is completely unsuitable for the situation.

Where did Double Entendre originate?

Both double and entendre are considered to be French terms; however, the phrase “double hear,” which literally translates to “double,” is not used in French. Double entente is the corresponding term in French, and its direct translation is “double understanding.”

Movie and television makers often employ double entendres to amuse both children (who do not understand the second reference, which may be sexual or tawdry) and adults (who do understand the second reference of the script) (who do get the second reference). It is an efficient strategy for increasing the number of people who watch their shows.

What is a Double Entendre in rap?

A double entendre in rap is a clever use of language where a phrase or lyric has two meanings—one literal and another more subtle or suggestive. Rappers often employ double entendres to add depth, wit, and complexity to their lyrics, allowing listeners to interpret their words in multiple ways.

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