Humour also lies in the angle or point of view from which a writer approaches a subject. The writer may use one or more of the following devices to create humour:

irony, exaggeration, parody, understatement, pun, double entendre, malapropism,

manufactured words, spoonerism, oxymoron, pairing of unlike elements, fancy and imagination)

What is Humour?

Basically, humour is anything written, spoken or acted out that causes amusement. Often, humour is based on incongruity, that is a discrepancy between how a person wants to be seen and what he/she is really like. The readers react with laughter when they recognize these discrepancies, peculiarities, oddities and absurdities in a person, situation or action. Thus humour is dependent on the clear expression or description of such situations on the part of the writer and the recognition of the discrepancies on the part of the reader/viewer.

There are two types/categories of humour:

literary humour

verbal humour

(=something funny in the way of presenting/phrasing it).

It relies on the means by which the person, object or event is described, and is often dependent on the element of surprise.

subject-matter humour

situational humour

(=something funny by itself)

It depends on the writer being able to recognize the humorous thing or event and then report it clearly


Irony: a figure of speech in which the intended meaning of a word or a statement is the opposite of its literal meaning. Usually, there is an irony-marker which signals to the reader that the statement is meant to be un derstood ironically. But what is stated ironically need not always be precisely the opposite of what is suggested. Irony may assert somewhat less than it suggests by the use of understatement.

In addition to understatement, irony may be achieved through the use of devices such as hyperbole, sarcasm and satire.

(special form of irony: Socratic irony )


It applies to scornful, bitter remarks spoken or written with the intention of hurting another's feelings. Sarcasm involves a deliberate personal attack, and is usually expressed in a contemptuous manner. It may make use of irony, i. d., saying one thing but meaning the opposite. Unlike true irony, however, sarcasm makes no attempt to disguise the real meaning beneath the apparent one.


It is a humorous satirical imitation of a person, event, novel, story, poem, play, film or other subject. By following the style and substance of the original work, a parody may seek to ridicule, criticize or merely amuse without devaluing the original.


It is a literary technique that mocks a powerful or influential personality, institution, moral code or social trend, often using exaggeration and irony to point out the flaws and shortcomings of its target. While anger and contempt frequently underlie a work of satire, the satirist's most powerful tools are wit and humour, which pique the reader's or listener's sense of the ridiculous and thus undermine the subject of the satire. (Cf. Mark Twain's statement "against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.")


It is an apparent self-contradictory statement that actually contains a truth. For example, Oscar Wilde said, " Life is for too important a thing ever to talk seriously about." G. B. Shaw once remarked, "The truth is the only thing that no one will believe."


It is a device in which the writer uses deliberate restraint in expressing his idea. In understating, a writer phrases his remark less strongly than would be expected, or communicates the idea in negative terms. But context is important in making sure that the reader realizes that an idea is being understated.


It is a figure of speech that combines contradictions, like jumbo shrimp and thunderous silence.


It is the habit of misusing words ridiculously, esp. by confusing words that are similar in sound. e. g. “…that she might know of contagious countries”[statt contiguous / next to something, or near something in time or order [+ with]: Canada is contiguous with the US along much of its border.]


It is the transposition of initial or other sounds by accident, e. g. our queer old dean instead of our dear old queen.

Double entendre

It is a word or expression used in a given context so that it can be understood in two ways, esp. when one meaning is indelicate or risqué. In spoken language for instance: "Well, it all depends on what you have got in your genes." [the pronunciation of "genes" is the same as that of "jeans"].


It is the general term for all figures which make a play on words.

(1) repetition of a word in two different meanings: "Your argument is sound, nothing but sound." Benjamin Franklin.

(2) use of words alike in sound but different in meaning. "The end of the plain plane, explained" (Airline advert)