For current political commentary, see the daily political notes.
RMS's Bio | The GNU Project
Out west, they call me punslinger. In Rome, I'm known as the puntiff. In India they call me the Pundit of the Punjab (no pun job too big, no pun job too small). Elsewhere I call myself the pun-isher, and I love a full-groan pun.
Here are my puns in English that I've remembered to write down. There is a section of computer puns near the end.
See also my Spanish puns, French puns, Portuguese puns, and linguistic swifties.
They say money talks, but did you know it also listens?
That's what the cashiers are for.
John Deere puts locked-down nonfree software in its farm machines, arousing the right-to-repair movement among farmers. Nowadays it seems to be producing more de-tractors than tractors.
Q: Where are the most powerful floodlights in New York City?
A: On Brighten Beach.
Q: What do you call someone who was such a scoundrel
that his will had to be put through probate twice?
A: A reprobate.
There is a dance group where you can't ask people to dance with you. You have to go as part of a couple, and dance only with the partner you came with.
The group's motto: be pre-paired.
(Dedicated to Irit, who told me about such a group. That policy Irit-ated her.)
I spent yesterday morning pulling up dandelions and crabgrass in the name of law'n order.
Q: What do you do when your furniture doesn't move smoothly?
A: Apply caster oil.
Q: Which was the first department store to carry refrigerators? A: Selfridges.
A journalist asked a municipal water filter what it thought about its job. It replied, "I'm just doing my sieve-ic duty."
Someone designed a better bicycle wheel, but they did not sell. The inventor wondered, "Do I need better spokes-men, or better peddlers?"
We should take care not to gossip more about Julian Assange than anyone else. It would be unfair to subject him to extra dishin'.
A: Next time a group of people asks me to run a nonfree program
with them, I will say, "Absolutely not."
B: Why so negative?
A: It's not negative, it's dispositive.
Many of the people who teach classes at universities work precariously for low pay. They are called "adjunct professors" — until they get fired. At that point they are simply "junct professors."
I am neither proud nor ashamed to be straight. I do not adopt it as my "identity". It is simply a fact about me. Likewise, that I am a man is simply a fact.
On the other hand, I am sometimes proud of being a straight man.
Parent 1: My son became a Little Leaguer to play baseball.
Parent 2: Watch out! When the child is a Little Leaguer,
the parents can become hypereager.
How can you sleep under water?
Use a snore-kel.
In English, a noun which has been verbed can still be renowned.
The activist told the professor, "I really care about migrants."
The professor responded, "I care about my grants, too."
I saw a bicyclist grab the back of a tram, and shouted,
"Watch out! Being tram-pulled can cause injury."
European banks pissed all over Greece and Italy.
I think the European Union needs treatment by a Eurologist.
Q: What do you do with your three-voice composition
if you can only afford to have two voices sound at any time?
A: Hocket (hock it).
Q: Why did the chicken cross the big street on a red light?
A: To become lsss of a chicken.
Q: Why is your sports car so uncomfortable to fit into?
A: Because it was designed by fiat.
I once flew on Frontier Alrlines. At checkin, I told the agent, "You have a right ear and a left ear, but I don't see a frontier."
Can joining a union protect workers from intersectionality?
Why won't I let you tie me up?
It's a trussed issue.
A vagabond in Manhattan looks across the Hudson River and muses:
I want to wander far and wide … beyond hobo ken.
A child became intensely attached to a toy soda can. We called it play-tonic love.
Q: What do you call a woman whose assets amount to 10**-5 dollars?
The end of the Cretaceous era wiped out the dinosaurs' computers and their trilobyte memories, along with the dinosaurs themselves.
A giant grabbed the moon with clips this morning. Are e-clips anything like alligator clips?
The four factors of the apocalypse:
global heating, global hating,
global eating, global mating.
If you want to have everybody's eyes on your sign, display it on Mount Sign-eye.
I love cloudy times, with their reduced sunlight. A gray day is grade-A weather.
When China bans VPNs, there will be no more chinks going through the great firewall.
(Please forgive the apparent ethnic slur — this pun is too funny to waste. I don't mean anything negative about any Chinese people except the rulers of China.)
What do you say about users of WhatsApp?
If you don't agree with my commentary,
you can say so, but don't respond by spreading dysentery.
Donald Trump has no heart, but he does need a de-fib-relator.
What Catholics in Michigan chiefly do in church is play euchre. They play it so much that many develop a repetitive stress injury known as the euchre wrist.
Whisking: a culinary technique that involves a whisker and a whiskey.
A boat went out in the morning in pursuit of efficiency. It didn't return at the expected time, so people said it was latency.
It's not merely a possibility that those SSL credentials might fail. I'd call it a dead cert.
Why is Amsterdam so good for balance?
Because it has many semicircular canals.
[This joke is not exactly a pun, but I put it here anyway]
An employee in a strip club said she had misunderstood what the job consisted of. "I thought I would be working at the polls, for elections."
After extracting my tooth, the dentist said I could eat pasta, but only if it is soft. Instead of al dente, it had to be alla gengiva.
People used to revile me for disregarding their recommendations for losing weight, until I snapped back, "I've had it with those diet-tribes!"
Queen Cleopatra enjoyed keeping snakes, so she told some of her philosophers to start studying reptiles. They decided to call this field of study "her-pet-ology."
A: I tried playing didgeridoo, but I didn't manage to learn the proper
B: Didgeridoo your lessons?
Since Boris Johnson tried to prorogue Parliament,
should his supporters be described as "pro-rogue"?
A sculpture of Theresa May contained surveillance cameras. A passerby attacked it with a hammer and was fined statue-tory damages.
This replaces a pun about David Cameron. To mock him is no longer useful, and seems almost churlish.
Pessimists are the realistic people. The others have their vision clouded by an opti-mist.
A Trinidadian family is one with three fathers.
(I don't intend to say anything about people from Trinidad, but this pun is too funny to waste.)
My friend is good at comforting people who are going off the deep end.
He's very deep-endable.
I visited the Corning Glass Museum and told them that
I could make Pyrex without hardly trying.
You see, I've never done baking, so any pies I make will surely be wrecks.
I had walked to that museum along Argonne Street, and all the houses there seemed vacant. Apparently the people Argonne.
A naturalist saw a whale dribbling out food on the sea floor then
tracing complex shapes in it with its tongue, and reported:
Whale observed painting with a krill lick.
Did it work to employ ex-marines in your factory?
No, the jarheads turned out to be bottlenecks.
When the head nurse said I was not pretty enough for intra-Venus feeding, I pleaded that I had graduated from an IV-league school.
"Here are stallions for the stage hands and cameramen to ride,
but the actors have to ride those geldings over there."
"That's not fair. Why can't we actors ride stallions too?"
"Because they haven't been cast-rated."
Q: I need a job, but I am so depressed that death is all I talk about.
No boss wants to listen to me, so I may starve to death. What can I do?
A: Work as an auctioneer's assistant -- an auctioneer always prefers one morbid.
If you decide to take a bus, and by chance you have the required exact change, that's a coin-cidence.
A geometer claimed he was carrying a divine message that people should be both Catholic and Baptist, and called himself the angel bisecter.
Facebook said it would slightly relax its policy of requiring accounts to carry people's real names, under pressure from cross-dressers. The company feared they would leave the site, and then it would be unable to do drag net surveillance. (Note, Facebook did not really make the change.)
Fossil-fool politicians in many countries are following Nero: playing the liar as Earth burns. (Note, that seems to have been a malicious false rumor.)
What did the judge write while on the Space Shuttle?
An orbiter dictum.
My girlfriend was formerly named "Stacy" but she changed her name shortly before I met her. I am so glad I found my ex-Stacy.
Making a pun on someone's name is called onomastication — and the victim usually says, or at least thinks, "Oh, no!"
How did you do on your French exam?
I omitted an accent and got a dire critical mark.
Where do orchids come from?
From a mommy orc and a daddy orc.
"What is causing the ship to drift?" asked the passenger. The captain replied, "Something cantankerous."
Why did Popeye become a stunt pilot? Because he had a spin-itch.
For a glider pilot to stay aloft for a long time, he must have the courage of his convections.
Copa airlines carries a whale in every plane, just to make sure every flight is copa-cetic.
Airplanes are spreading sonic and chemical pollution around Seattle; residents complain about pew-jet sound.
I found my female sibling weeping, and asked her, "Having a cry, sis?"
How broad are the effects of increased CO2 on the ocean? They stretch from cost to cost.
A drunkard took shelter on a full moon night in a large windowless building. Alas for him, it was a werehouse.
Why can't we grow new trees?
Because our soil is short of new-tree-ents.
My friend had a few acacia trees which flowered acacionally.
Why is the English common law so concerned with property rights? Because the English gentry insisted on proper tea rites every afternoon.
Bakers for the English nobility used cylindrical ovens descending into the ground so that their product would be well bread.
There is a sign in Brooklyn that advertises the law firm of Held, Held, Held and Held. Don't call them to get you out of jail!
Why do sports teams from Scranton generally lose? Because they don't try hard enough. It's called, "Lackawanna."
Why do gamblers from Scranton generally lose? Instead of the whole poker face, they use just the Poconos.
I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel tower. What an eyeful!
The Grand Canyon is deeply gorgeous.
If you have trouble making decisions, you should get treated by an optician.
What's the best tool for twisting someone's neck? A torc wrench.
How should a girl prevent boys from getting infatuated with her? Regularly use a detergent, and when that fails, apply the antidote.
When he gets you alone in the back seat, it means he's in the mood for carpetting. Watch out — he could cover you with carcasses and it could become car-sin-ogenic.
We discovered asbestos in the basement; what should we do? Clean it up asbestos we can.
The Boston Celtics have a very frank name that indicates the organization's true purpose: sell tix.
Finally, New York City has elected a day-mayor. Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg were night-mayors.
"The bees' knees" is the plural of "the beanie".
The crow is a very wise bird: whatever it does, it does with caws.
The ancient Greek goddess of parking was Demeter. If you parked in an unpropitious place, you had to make an offering to Demeter.
The word "procrastination" comes from the Greek myth of Procrastes, who would stretch every task to fit the time available.
Which constellation is Irish? O'Ryan.
In anthropology, the way people in a group understand their behavior is called "emic"; an outsider's objective description of the behavior is called "etic". The relationship between the two is known as the "emetic" relationship.
I met someone who said, "I study microfinance," so I asked if they were too fine to observe with the naked eye.
A boy told me he wanted to spend a year studying abroad, so I told him that each one requires a whole life of study.
A girl I adored found a Latin lover, so I accused her of getting off on a tan gent.
Once when I was feeling sad I drove past an artificial lake and said, "I feel a dam sight better now."
I met a man who was picking his clothing apart at the seams. I asked him why, and he told me, "It's my work — I am an auto-detailor."
Which Jazz musician is most popular on the World Wide Web? Bix Baederbecke (known to some as Big Spider Becke).
Did you hear about the free-lance magic advisor? He added consult to conjury.
They are called contractors because their business keeps getting smaller.
The great gothic cathedrals were built by men with hairy behinds, who used to climb to the top of the unfinished building and shake them. People came for miles to see the famous "flying butt-tresses."
Composting is a very useful practice, but it never occurs to me to do it. I guess I'm non compost mentis.
We've all seen slogans with hearts, spades and maybe clubs, but not with the other suit. Thus, here is my pledge not to gafiate: I won't ♦ane.
(In science function fandom, non-fans are referred to as "mundanes", and to "gafiate" (gafia = get away from it all) means to drop out of fandom and become a mundane.)
Chinese gardens often have beautiful ponds filled with beautiful ornamental carp, known as "koi", with beautiful bridges over them. Watch out for those: if you stand on one, you can get carp-pool tunnel syndrome.
How do you remove the fish from those ponds? With a de-koi.
Why do those fish need less food than we need? They have an economy of scale.
Harvard is built on vector calculus: it has grad students, div students, and girl (curl) students.
You can tell a Cantabridgian because everything he writes is too long.
Fordham university is going to open a very expensive branch in Cambridge, to be called Canta-Fordham.
The Stata Center at MIT was infested by mice, and one of them often nibbled on my tea bags. I called it "my tea mouse".
I told a gathering, "In my experience, moustraps are effective." A mouse replied, "In my experience, mousetraps are de-bait-able."
When a mouse gnaws on something that isn't good to eat, does it get gnawseous?
Daylight savings time was invented by a German politician. He was so proud that he changed his name to Adenauer.
In the 1980s there were two students at the AI Lab named Nomi. We were binomial.
I have a young relative named Noemi. I hope she doesn't go into TV.
A flautist is a musician who disregards performance conventions.
How do you seduce a cryptographer? Say you'd like to visit his one-time pad.
What do you say when your sweetheart needs the toilet so
urgently that walking isn't fast enough?
Skip to my loo, my darling.
A company whose employees used pogo sticks to deliver bottled water was called "Pole and Spring Water."
I broke the world record for lying in bed. Instead of a trophy, I got atrophy.
For a few years, Dubya made himself the "teflon president" through religion: he practiced gnostic Christianity.
The Bahai church invites people to join, but the Babai church encourages its members to convert to other faiths.
The delta Jews were a community of Jews who lived in the New Orleans
area in the 19th century. How did delta Jews greet each other?
They said, "How's bayou?"
How does a chemistry professor punish grad students in the lab? By putting them on tight rations.
The radical chemists say:
if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
What sort of publicity do they use to promote silvigyny?
A dry ad is often effective.
What happened to the king that the people did not like?
He was throne out.
People who mainly read and write using online dis-services
struggle to achieve a feeling for longer kinds of dashes.
Those media are not conducive to developing em-pathy.
The doctors that worked on US sleeping car trains created a special branch of medicine, known as Pullmanary medicine.
Why did they put the Royal College of Physicians (in Dublin)
on Kildare Street?
Because people there were having respiratory problems from breathing the killed air.
Does an Anarchist man have an antistate gland instead of a prostate gland?
A doctor said I had a distended abdomen. I said, "Hold it right there! I tend my abdomen carefully every day — particularly the stomach."
Homeopathy is quackery with dilutions of grandeur.
My friend got a balloon put in his stomach so he would lose weight. I asked him how they inflated the balloon, and he said, "I think they played some sort of trick with the gas. They called it a gas-trick balloon."
Later my friend told me he had a pain in the belly — the diver was tickling him, he said.
"What in the world?" I exclaimed.
"The doctor told me I had diver-tickle-itis."
Then he started coughing all the time. He told me that it was because of the wild horses.
I said that didn't make sense, and he said, "Yeah, really! They said I had bronchitis."
My friend's pool game got a lot worse — he was
missing easy shots because of an occasional pain in his arm.
He told me, "The doctor said it's flubitis."
I asked a doctor when there would be a cure for the common cold, and he said it would happen when swine flu.
Two cells went to Las Vegas and formed a syncytial connection.
Modern neurobiology has determined that drunkenness occurs primarily in the michel lobe.
Q: How do neurons learn to function in harmony?
A: They join a glia club.
My neighbor in 1967 got a medical deferment from the draft by presenting his doctor with a case of sham pain.
Which elements are most useful in medicine? Helium and curium, and if those fail, barium.
Eye doctor: These drops will make your pupils dilate.
Teacher: Better they die late than die early.
The US mainstream media had a stroke, and now suffer from left-wing hemineglect.
Menopause is a liberating experience because you no longer have to worry about men and their paws.
MIT geneticists have formed their own singing group — the hiss-tones.
Q: How can you make your child grow up to be an extrovert? A: Feed per lots of extroversion olive oil.
There's now a marijuana dispensary downtown, so you can get your THC in the CBD.
A new product consists of gorgonzola cheese with marijuana mixed in. Just look at it and you're stoned.
Amana plans to make a tiny microwave oven for cooking one mushroom at a time. It will be called the Amanita.
At the restaurant tonight we had to wait in line to meet the real doll. It was a Barbie-queue.
The barbecue had no collard greens when I ate there. They apologized and said that the greens were running so fast that day that they couldn't be collard.
How does a Chinese chef cook a noisy animal?
In a jabberwok.
My friend opened a tin of sardines and began eating them with very small bites. I said, "You can't do that! That's can-nibble-ism!"
I had a great meal at a Moroccan restaurant. Some places are rockin', and some are Moroccan.
I went to a Nepalese restaurant and had a Nepalling dinner.
Cooking that makes you sick is called queasine.
McDonald's sells "fast food", so called because it is made for not eating.
A gourmet tricked a restaurant into giving him sushi rolls by means of a makiavellian scheme.
Q: What kind of social bond is forged over soup?
A: Broth-erly love.
Q: When is it possible to convert a cracker into a soup?
A: When it's a bisque kit.
Did you hear about the pirates that boarded a ship and stole a cargo of truffles? They were hypha-lootin' pirates.
Q: What do pirate kids study in pirate school? A: Baking — so they can qualify for pie rating.
A meat chef resigned because he was tired of getting lamb basted.
In London Chinatown, we always used to eat at Poons, because we enjoyed their Lamb Poons.
The waiters at an Ethiopian restaurant in Boston are nasty. They add insult to injera.
What dessert combines cocoa and eggplant?
When Jimmy Carter was chosen as the chief official of the state of Georgia, was that a goobernatorial election?
M&M's were invented in ancient Egypt, and were named after the pharaoh Amenemhet.
Zucchini: a two-piece bathing suit for animals.
Q: Which fruits are the most talkative?
Q: What do you call food made with dodgy raw tuna?
A: Hokey poke.
When Europeans first visited the northern part of North America, they did not know how to survive there. The natives did, so they gave the Europeans advice based on their experience:
But the Europeans had no respect for the natives, and ignored this wise advice. So they kept on wearing insufficient clothing, teasing bears, and travelling with too few dogs. Sometimes they died, and the natives told each other, "I knew it."
Eventually they became known as the Inuit.
The procedure for creating a Twitter account could soon be Elon-gated.
Has Twitter been gored by a musk ox?
Typical smartphone apps generally do malicious things — on top of being nonfree, thus impossible to modify — so the study of apps is mainly a matter of trying to excuse their maliciousness. That's why it's called "appology".
My new keyboard can do "roll over." Also "play dead."
An analog circuit designer applies for a job at a dating service, but they tell him, "You've misread the ad: we process singles, not signals."
Integrated circuit technology would have been lost during the Middle Ages if it hadn't been preserved by the chipmunks.
How do you get a hacker to stop typing and go to sleep? Sing a lulzaby.
Modern laptop monitor design: lengthwise and width foolish.
How do you make a computer chip handle stress?
Design it with angst-rom units.
Otherwise it might go on a ram-page (thanks to Adrienne Thompson).
Despite asking over and over, I have been unable to convince
the EFF to support my positions — for instance, that Digital
Restrictions Management should be illegal, that software should be
immune from patent lawsuits, and that digital systems must be
redesigned not to collect dossiers about people in general.
It appears my views are inEFFable.
Basic is worse than C-sick.
Apple's response to Google Glasses will be called iBrowse.
The Pioneer Award I received is a lot nicer than the pie-in-face Award that Bill Gates received at about the same time.
A pair of travelling exhibits on theory of computation was known as the Turing Circus. (Three meanings!)
In the Greek myth of sysfs, every time the programmers thought it was working, they discovered they needed to rewrite it from scratch.
When a monastery sells jams and jellies over the Internet, is that monk e-business?
During the 1980s, millions of computers came to America through LSI-land.
The computer designers who believe processor chips are obsolete must be high on gate-arrayed.
To go with its AIX system (a variant of Unix), IBM redesigned the X Window System and called it Panes. Thus, users of the RT-PC could have AIX and Panes on their machine.
My femmebot wanted an upgrade to be more attractive, so I gave her a sexy new core-set.
In the 1980s, GNU included a program designed to fake the use of COFF format without really understanding it. The program was called Robotussin (COFF medicine for your computer). (That program really existed, and I was disappointed when true support for COFF made Robotussin obsolete.)
When a particularly nasty bug appears close to release time, is that regression to the mean?
The most important part of any digital church is the apse.
At dinner at a Japanese restaurant, the person next to me said she wanted to work with abused children. Since we had not yet received the tempura, I responded, "If battered shrimps are your interest, we should have some soon."
Bento box: a shoe that isn't long enough.
The cooks that make negimaki are rapscallions.
In a Japanese restaurant, the waiter offered me sake. I declined the sake, saying, "No thanks, I'm going to eat cold soba tonight."
Did you know Senator Joe McCarthy was a Shintoist? He thought there were kamis everywhere.
Q: Is it true that in Japan money grows on trees?
A: Yes, on the ginko trees.
I took the ferry to the South Island, and when I got off, the locals started mocking me. It wasn't that they were mean, though. They just wanted me to feel Picton.
Then I saw that someone was selling chairs and tables made of punga wood. He called them "ferniture".
If there is a Freddo Frog, should there be a Semifreddo Salamander?
In Mt Gambier, Australia, the prostitutes had so little custom that they had to moonlight looking after trucks parked in a large lot, while the drivers went to sleep or eat. Later the appreciative town commemorated them by converting the lot into Van-Sit Tart Park.
Kakadu National Park was named after the inbred feral chickens that couldn't manage all of "cockadoodle do".
How the echidna got its name: The first naturalist who described this egg-laying mammal at a meeting encountered contemptuous disbelief from his colleagues. One of them even said, "'e kiddin' ya".
Australians have domesticated the trolls, and use them to propel cars. So when a car gets low on energy, you take it to a pet-troll station.
Is there a cure for Tasmania?
No, but people in Australia who get Alzheimer's disease can apply for Adelaide.
When Maria Cristina of Iligan realized her lover was not coming back, just before jumping over the falls, she cried out, "To me, no beau!". Thus, the region became known as Tuminobo.
What's the spookiest city in the Philippines?
Cebu (Say "Boo!").
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