Double entendres have
two meanings.

For example, a sign might read: "We stand behind every bed we sell." You might wonder if you'll see the salesman who sold you your bed waiting patiently behind it come nightfall to see if you truly enjoy your new sleep experience.

Or you may just believe that the store that sold you the bed feels so strongly about their beds that they are guaranteeing your comfort.

Another word for a double entendre is an amphiboly. In the book With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies, S. Morris Engel relays a variety of sentences that constitute amphiboly.

The word is closely related to ambiguity, which means "uncertainty of meaning in language."

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When writing, you must make yourself clear and understandable for your readers. If they don't know what you are trying to say or can't grasp where you are going, they may lose interest.

Double entendres are funny, but can rob your writing of its value if readers mistakenly take the wrong meaning from them. See if you can discern the different meanings and then read below to see what the meanings actually are.

Here are Some Examples:

1. The ladies of the Walnut Street Mission have discarded clothes. They invite you to come and inspect them.

2. It pays to remember your social obligations. If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't come to yours.

3. Traffic Sign: Slow Children Crossing.

4. Druggist's Sign: We Dispense with Accuracy.

5. Police authorities are finding the solution of murders more and more difficult because the victims are unwilling to cooperate with the police.

6. Testimonial from an insurance firm: My husband and I took out a home insurance policy with your company. In less than a month our house accidentally burned down. I consider it a blessing.

7. I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

8. Prostitutes appeal to Pope.

9. Public Service Announcement: Our X-ray unit will give you an examination for tuberculosis and other diseases which you will receive free of charge.

10. Come to us for unwanted pregnancies.

11. Lost: Samsonite Briefcase with Eyeglasses

12. I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why?

13. Church Announcement: What is hell? Come to church next Sunday and listen to our new minister!

Understanding Meanings:

See the double entendres above, and read on to discover what meanings can be gleaned from them.

1. Are you invited to come and inspect the ladies or the clothes?

2. Who will not come to the funeral? The dead or their loved ones?

3. Is the sign informing motorists of the type of children crossing there, or is the sign instructing motorists to slow down?

4. Has this druggist thrown accuracy by the wayside or does the druggist dispense his prescriptions with the utmost accuracy?

5. If the victims were murdered, no wonder they are unwilling to cooperate with the police. They're dead!

6. Does the woman believe it was a blessing that their house burned down or that they had taken out an insurance policy just in time?

7. Did the cows actually find the person, or was the person found near the cows?

8. Does the Pope like the prostitutes, or are they appealing to him and atoning for their sins?

9. Are you going to receive the exam free of charge or the diseases?

10. Should you go to these people to get rid of unwanted pregnancies (abortion), or to have sex and end up pregnant even though you didn't want to?

11. Did the briefcase wear eyeglasses, or were the eyeglasses found in the briefcase?

12. Does the person want to be told why he cannot get sick pay or does he want to be told why he ended up with six children?

13. Is the minister going to explain exactly what hell is, or is hell sitting there and listening to the new minister?

I know that some of these dual meanings don't really make sense, but that doesn't mean that people don't see these ridiculous meanings within their respective sentences.

The truth is that some people read things differently, and they may think exactly the opposite of whatever the true meaning of the sentence is.

So be careful. Watch what you write. Re-read your work.

Now that you know what double entendres are, you'll start to notice them all the time.

You can see them in newspaper headlines, books, magazines, etc.

Just keep your eyes open. You're sure to see more and more now that you've learned what they entail.

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