How to use Word Play
You can use word play for all kinds of things, from simple one line jokes to long dramatic monologues and speeches. The type of rhetorical device you chose, should be based on your audience, the style of your work, and the genre of your work. The rest is really up to you and your creativity as a writer! For how to use specific types of word play, check out the examples in “Types of Word Play.”
When to use Word Play
So when can you use word play in your writing? The answer is just about whenever you want! You just have to be smart about when you use which devices—for example, double entendres are great for comedy, but wouldn’t be appropriate in a formal essay.
Word Play is widely used in both literature and oral cultures across all genres and styles. Nowadays, word play is popular not only in fiction and informal writing, but in formal works and for serious content as well—even the news. Remember the “Brexit” example given above—that term wasn’t coined for its humor; it was formed to be a catchy news term, and it is now used globally. So, while you probably don’t want to use humorous word play in a serious news report or essay, it may still be appropriate to use other types of word play for a memorable effect or to reflect popular language trends. For example, you could use alliteration for a headline like “Monkeys Make Mayhem at Local Park,” or “New Shark Makes a Big Splash at the Local Aquarium.”