Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

Not Just Your Grandmother’s Pun!

lrs1659My grandma was “word-clever” almost until the day she died. I especially remember her corny puns and plays on words, which made me both laugh and groan. Researchers Alan Seidman, of Johnson and Wales University, and Stephen C. Brown, of the University of Alaska, say “Puns are a humorous way to get adult learners to think more critically about any subject.”

Puns Can Help Adults Learn

Believe it our not, research has found that we can use puns to help adult learners in the classroom. Puns represent a true form of critical thinking as the brain stretches itself to find dual meaning for certain words (Lems, 2013). Puns can also improve memory, because the internal incongruity they create helps students recall information (Summerfelt et al., 2010).

Try using puns you grew up with, or others you find on websites. You can used them as Hooks, to reinforce a point about a particular topic, or as pun-filled riddles. Here’s an example of the latter, used in an adult geography class:

Q: What is the capital of Antartica?

A: The letter “A.”


A couple I’ve enjoyed:

Sleep? There’s a nap for that.

If you take an exam in a freezing cold room, you might become a testicle.

So have fun as you use puns to bring your classroom alive!

Guila Muir is the premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters on the West Coast of the United States. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great trainer:

© Guila Muir


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