Don’t think just two. While double entendres and homonyms have (at least) dual meanings, they offer more than a couple of ways to enhance your message. People enjoy creative word play. Just make sure what you choose is something your audience can understand.
Many assume double entendres must have sexual undertones. That’s not true. While risqué is a common use, humor and irony are more important facets, at least to my mind. Using clever words or phrases to express compound meanings can make your marketing copy more powerful and memorable.
According to literarydevices.net, “A double entendre is a literary device that can be defined as a phrase or a figure of speech that might have multiple senses, interpretations, or two different meanings, or which might be understood in two different ways.” Phrase or figure of speech is a limiting definition. Single words fall into this realm too.
For me, double entendres are more akin homonyms than innuendo. Homonyms are words that are spelled and sound the same, but have at least two different meanings.
Think arm, which is a noun for a body appendage or a verb that equips you with weapons, education, facts, or other items to help you gain ground. Wave is a hand gesture, something you see in the ocean, and also describes emotions, trends, or sound patterns.
How can implementing such terms help you be more effective in your marketing messages?
Let’s say you’re in the financial industry. Balance is a great, relevant word with multiple meanings. It can apply to everything from what’s in a bank account and smart money strategies, to your firm’s philosophy and diversification policies.
“We balance our wealth management approaches with customized approaches to help you gain financial balance geared toward your retirement objectives.”
Celebrities play on the humor aspect of double entendres or homonyms.
“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” – Mae West
“Take my wife . . . please.” – Rodney Dangerfield
Then, delving into risqué territory:
“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” The Belamy Brothers
Of course, there’s a variety of terminology for words that seem the same, but aren’t. These include:
- Homographs – words that are spelled the same with different meanings (e.g. lead, fair)
- Heteronyms – this term falls under the homograph umbrella, but refers to words pronounced differently (e.g. bow, tear)
- Homophones – words that are spelled differently but sound the same (e.g. scent/cent)
There’s more, but why start going into headache territory?
The point is, clever word choice can get people thinking. Selecting terms with multiple meanings can infuse humor into your writing. Think about how much more fun you’ll have creating messages that are memorable and shared.
Of course, you want to make sure you’re getting noticed for the right things. Unintentional double meanings can undermine your aims. Slipping into sexual undertones in your marketing copy is risky, particularly when you’re operating your business in a conservative, Christian town.
Clever word choice, however, can get people smiling and sharing your message for all the right reasons. Whether you call it double entendre, homograph, or something else, words and phrases with multiple meanings can add a richness to your message that’s hard to beat.
Not everyone will get it. That’s OK. Keep the message simple enough that a good number of people in your audience will pick up on the dual meaning and they’ll want to tell others about how smart they are in finding it. After all, word-of-mouth continues to be one of the best tools for business promotion.
Most importantly, have fun. That’s what makes marketing messages memorable. You should be chuckling as you’re creating the copy. Your audience should too as they read it. Using words or phrases with multiple meanings helps. Think of it like a puzzle game that’s easy to solve. Everyone wins and feels proud about their smarts.
If you enjoy learning about the origin of common word choices and missed the last blog post, check out smile-worthy finds on the origin of clichés. Want more? Discover what you might be mistakenly doing with idioms.