Add double entendre to one of your lists below, or create a new one. Definitions Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English. Click on the arrows to change the translation direction. Follow us. Choose a dictionary. Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English. Usage explanations of natural written and spoken English.
Historical Use of Double-Entendre
Test your vocabulary with our fun image quizzes
A double-entendre is a phrase or figure of speech that could have two meanings or that could be understood in two different ways. There are many examples of double-entendre found in literature and in life. In fact, even William Shakespeare and Chaucer used double-entendres. One of the earliest known examples of a double-entre found in literature dates back to the 14th century. In his famous work, The Canterbury Tales , Chaucer used many different examples of double-entendres. On of the most famous, however, is the use of the word "queynte" to describe both the domestic and womanly duties in the home as well as the female genitalia. Because double-entendres are words or phrases that can be interpreted in two ways, they aren't always sexual in nature and sometimes they are not even intentional. Some examples of accidental double-entendres that have been printed in newspapers or published on the Internet include:. Double-entendres, when used intentionally, can be fun and entertaining because the idea is to get a laugh both from people in the know and from people who do not get the second or sexual meaning.
A double entendre [note 1] plural double entendres is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to have a double meaning, of which one is typically obvious, whereas the other often conveys a message that would be too socially awkward, sexually suggestive, or offensive to state directly. A double entendre may exploit puns or word play to convey the second meaning. Double entendres generally rely on multiple meanings of words, or different interpretations of the same primary meaning. They often exploit ambiguity and may be used to introduce it deliberately in a text. Sometimes a homophone can be used as a pun. When three or more meanings have been constructed, this is known as a "triple entendre", etc. According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression comes from the rare and obsolete identical French expression, which literally meant "double meaning" and was used in the senses of "double understanding" or "ambiguity" but acquired its current suggestive twist in English after being first used in English in by John Dryden.
Learn about the use of innuendo and double entendre in British comedy. English is full of words and phrases that have more than one meaning, and this is very useful for comic purposes. So for example, let's say we have somebody in a film or play who is talking about one thing, and the person listening to him or her misinterprets it and thinks that the person he is talking about something completely different. Now, that's a basis for comedy, isn't it? And if the misinterpretation is sexual as well, that's even better for a British audience because, of course, we've always been sexually repressed. There's nothing new about innuendo. It's been with us for hundreds of years. And Shakespeare used innuendo in a number of his plays. There's a very good example in A Midsummer Night's Dream.