Fun with puns and signs

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 24, 2020

In the spirit of keeping things light and cheery, while keeping a keen eye on our language, today’s column is a hybrid of sorts.

The first part is dedicated to mostly unintentional bloopers in signs and the second is a collection of puns for the discerning mind.

Putting language down in writing to create a sign with the intention of including necessary details, keeping it short, and trying to be clear can sometimes result in the very opposite. And when punctuation is not included, the messages can be even funnier. Again, this collection of bloopers found on signs is not original. It’s been around for a while. See what you think.

In an office building – Toilet out of order, please use floor below.

In a laundromat – Automatic washing machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

In a London department store – Bargain basement upstairs.

In an office – Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.

In an office – After tea break, staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.

Outside a second-hand shop – We exchange anything – bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

Notice in health food shop window – Closed due to illness.

Spotted in a safari park – Elephants please stay in your car.

Seen during a conference: – For anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a daycare on the first floor.

Notice in a farmer’s field – The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.

On a repair shop door – We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door – the bell doesn’t work.)

And now for some puns. You know what they say: two-thirds of a pun is P-U. But I’m hoping these will bring a good laugh. They are from a collection titled, “Puns for educated minds.”

The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

She was only a farmer’s daughter, but all the horsemen knew her.

She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

A door’s a door until it’s ajar.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, “You stay here. I’ll go on ahead.”

JULIA PALMER is an associate professor of modern languages at Hampden-Sydney College. She can be reached at