A friend of mine recently had the opportunity to meet former professional boxer and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield. He snapped a photo with him and posted it on Facebook, saying that he wanted to discuss “ears” with Holyfield but he just wasn’t “biting.” A clever pun referencing the infamous match with Mike Tyson, right? Someone then commented that this was “so puny.”

My friend then replied to say that indeed his fist is smaller than that of the former professional boxer. That’s because the comment was likely meant to say that the caption was “so punny” rather than “so puny.” One letter completely changes the pronunciation and the meaning.

Puny” is an adjective describing something that is remarkably small, weak, or feeble. It could also describe something that is poor in magnitude or quality. It is sometimes used by the bad guys in movies, TV shows and video games. The villainous street thug may taunt the protagonist, calling him “a puny little dweeb.” It’s a term most often used in a derogatory or demeaning sense.

That puny car will never be able to haul such a load up the steep hill.

The first syllable in “puny” is pronounced such that it rhymes with dew, new or few. It’s pronounced “pew-nee” (or more accurately as “pyoo-nee”). That’s not quite the same as the word “peony.” The pronunciation is probably closer to the word “mutiny” if you were to remove the second syllable.

Punny” is a portmanteau combining the words “pun” and “funny.” In other words, it becomes an adjective to describe an especially funny pun. The clever play on words (pun) is particularly amusing or humorous (funny).

The way “punny” is pronounced, it understandably rhymes with the word funny. It also rhymes with runny, dunny, and honey. It’s not a “real” word, in the traditional sense, but it is used quite widely online, particularly in the context of dad jokes.

I’d know, of course, since I’m a cool dad who makes “punny” dad jokes all the time.

I promise you the punchline is stellar. Truly out of this world. Universally relevant even.

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Follow the #BTRDadJokes hashtag on Instagram or check out the album on Facebook to keep up with all of these cringe-worthy puns. Because in space, no one can hear you groan. How punny is that?