When something is given a name which has more than one meaning or could be a reference to multiple sources. This may be deliberate, making an even stronger reference (or just a clever Stealth Pun
), or accidental, which can lead to Analogy Backfire
if other meanings make less sense or outright contradict the original.
For instances which occur in titles, see Pun-Based Title
and Double Meaning Title
. Subtrope to Double Meaning
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Anime and Manga
and other Japanese media often has this in the form of a Bilingual Bonus
- The Thompson Sisters in Soul Eater could be a reference to the Thompson machine gun (since they can transform into guns) or, given the amount of musical references in the show, the Thompson Twins (who, ironically, weren't twins which also fits, since the sisters are opposites of each other).
- In Japanese, "Kami" can mean spirit, paper or hair (of the head). It's so easy to make wordplays of it.
- In Flame of Recca (the anime at least) there are at least two characters with a weapon/power called "Shikigami". One controls hair, the other paper.
- Death Note: Writing names on a notebook (full of paper) given to you by a god of death; the main character wants to become "God of the New World". You can make more puns from there.
- Tohno Akiha's ability, "Caging Hair", is called "Origami" in Japanese.
- The Japanese language in general lends itself well to this kind of wordplay thanks to its plentiful homophones, numerous pronunciations for each kanji, and the liberty of writing in alphabet, syllabary, or kanji.
- In YuYu Hakusho Yusuke's "Rei-Gun" can be interpreted as either "Spirit Gun" (what's used in the dub of the anime) or the English "ray gun"- which is pretty much what it looks like coming out of his finger.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has this for several characters. The best example is Chiri: her name can mean perfect, clairvoyance, to bury, or frizzy (hair).
- Eiichiro Oda, author of One Piece is very fond of this sort of thing. A notable example exists in one of Sanji's finishing moves, the Parage Shot, a kick that can literally beat people pretty. "Parage" is a French word meaning "Trimming", in keeping with Sanji's moves being named in Gratuitous French. There's also a Japanese brand of beauty products named "Perlage" that's pronounced as Parage. Another is Nami's hometown being named Cocoyashi village, which refers to the coconut trees, but also sounds like Kokkaishi, or navigator (Nami's role in the Straw Hats).
- In Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!!, the title characters' names, Retsu and Gou, are a pun on "Let's go!" Combined with their friend Jun, the three are named for Jun Retsugou, the stage name of manzai comedian Yoshiji Watanabe.
- The opening for the anime Mouse is called "Mouse Chuu Mouse". This is a multiple pun: it is pronounced like "Mouth to Mouth", but chuu is the Japanese onomatopoeia for both mouse squeaks and kisses... which are, incidentally, an activity that is done "mouth to mouth".
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a character named Viral, who fits with the DNA Theme Naming of many antagonists (Lord Genome, the Four Generals named after the Nucleobases, etc.); however, his name (following the Japanese rules of pronounciation) can be also spelt "Bilal", as in French comic book artist Enki Bilal. That's why Viral's mecha is named Enkidu and the song associated with him on the soundtrack is called "Nikopol".
- Kidou Senkan Nadesico (literally, "Mobile Battleship Nadesico"): "Kidou Senkan" is similar sounding to "Kidou Senshi" referencing the use of Humongous Mecha in the show. "Senkan Nadesico" (or "Nadeshiko") is a double pun that references both Uchuu Senkan Yamato, and the Japanese concept of Yamato Nadeshiko. This multi-layered, multiple reference pun is likely the reason why ADV Films released it as "Martian Successor Nadesico" in North America.
- Urusei Yatsura: "Urusei" is a misspelling/mispronounciation of "urusai", which usually means "loud", or "annoying", or "obnoxious" and is also used to tell people to "shut up". "Yatsura" is a pejorative way of referring to a group of people. Also, while most of the name is written in hiragana, the kanji for "star" is used for the "sei" in the title, referring to Lum, an alien being who is one of the main characters. Thus, the title can be translated as "Those Annoying Aliens", or "Those Obnoxious Aliens".
- In Dragon Ball Z, Gohan and Videl's daughter is named Pan; the name may come from the word for "bread" in many languages, continuing Gohan's family's naming tradition, the mythological being Pan, continuing Pan's family's naming tradition, or the pan flute, continuing the naming tradition of Gohan's Parental Substitute Piccolo's family.
- All over the place in Watchmen:
- The title itself. It's based on the Latin phrase "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", which can be translated as "who watches the watchmen?" This phrase appears as a piece of graffiti throughout the book. The original phrase was about the dilemma of how to ensure that those who enforce the law are themselves answerable to the law, a dilemma that applies especially to vigilantes such as the main characters. Late in the story, Ozymandias provides an alternate explanation by referencing a line from the speech Kennedy planned to give in Dallas, about "watchmen on the walls of democracy", which Ozymandias considers himself. Doctor Manhattan's character arc provides two more interpretations: he used to be a watchmaker, and he sees himself and all other humans as machines that are no more in control of their actions than a watch is in control of its moving hands.
- Rorschach is named after a famous personality test. His mask resembles the popular image of the test (though not the test itself), which is also a series of black and white images, appropriate for Rorschach's worldview. Also, being named after a psychological test is perhaps appropriate for a character with the deep-seated mental problems Rorschach has.
- Adrian Veidt's codename Ozymandias is the name Greek sources give to the pharaoh Ramesses II, fitting to his obsession with both ancient Greek and Egyptian culture. It's also a reference to a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, the main theme of which is futility, implying that Veidt's grand plan will not ensure world peace after all.
- The title of the chapter "Fearful Symmetry" is from the poem "Tyger, Tyger" by William Blake, and is a good description of Rorschach's mask, and the epigraph from the same poem, "What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry" could refer to the fact that Rorschach has just been framed for the murder of Moloch or, in the actual meaning of the line, the fact that he has been captured by the police after avoiding arrest for many years. On top of all that, the layout of the chapter is symmetrical as well.
- The first Nightowl's autobiography is titled Under The Hood, which refers both to his life as a masked superhero and to his career as a mechanic.
- The title of Chapter 10 is "Two Riders Were Approaching", a phrase from the Bob Dylan song "All Along the Watchtower". (The line is quoted in full at the chapter's end.) This phrase turns out to have five meanings within the chapter.
- The initial panels show the president and vice president arriving at the Cheyenne Mountain bunker, first on separate jet planes and then riding separate electric golf carts.
- In the parallel story line of the "Black Freighter" pirate comic book, the protagonist encounters (and kills) two people riding horses.
- Two Jehovah's Witnesses riding bicycles stop at the newsstand to buy a newspaper and try to give a tract to the newsvendor.
- The last few panels show Nite Owl and Rorshach on hover-bikes, approaching Veidt's Antarctic base.
- When Nite Owl tries to guess the password on Veidt's office computer, it responds to his almost-correct password with "Password incomplete: Do you wish to add rider?" The correct "rider" is the number 2.
- The song title "All Along the Watchtower" has an additional double meaning in Chapter 10. It evokes not only the series title Watchmen, but also The Watchtower, the religious magazine that the Jehovah's Witnesses try to give to the newsvendor.
- The agency Mortadelo y Filemón work for is called T.I.A., which is an obvious reference to the CIA. Since "tía" in Spanish means "aunt", the name also works as a pun on The Man From UNCLE, fitting since it's a Spanish series about comedic espionage.
- In The Multiversity, the Captain Ersatz of Spider-Woman from Earth-8 is named Ladybug, which is both a reference to the insect of the same name and the fact that she is the Distaff Counterpart of Bug, the Spider-Man ersatz from the same universe.
- Star Trek's scene with The Beastie Boys' song "Sabotage" can refer to the director going against Star Trek tradition by using a radical approach that may unsettle fans, Kirk's rebellious nature that could endanger his chance of reaching the iconic status he's known for eventually, and it's a reference to William Shatner's trouble pronouncing the word sabotage without a Canadian accent. That said, the director maintains that he hadn't been thinking of the infamous "sabataage" outtake when he chose that song.
- The title of Easy A is a pun that uses the common expression to refer to both the protagonist's alleged sluttiness and the 'A' she sews onto her clothing to make a point.
- North By Northwest. As well as the Hamlet reference, it's also about how the protagonist has to go north on Northwest Airlines.
- The idiom "A friend in need is a friend indeed" has four potential meanings based on the interpretations of "in deed/indeed" and "friend in need";
- A friend who is "in need" is a good friend (because they need your friendship).
- A friend who is "in need" will do their best to remind you that they're your friend ("in deed").
- A friend who remains a friend in your time of need is "indeed" your friend.
- A friend is someone who reminds you of their friendship in your time of need (once again; in [their] deed[s]).
- Blink182's song "Wrecked Him" is aptly named as far as the lyrics go. But it's Blink-182, so the title is a pun on the word "rectum."
- Hawkwind's song "Flying Doctor" is about an Australian flying doctor who abuses prescription drugs - in other words, he's "flying" in more ways than one.
- Sound Horizon's Märchen album gets a lot of mileage out of "ido", which can refer to, among other things, a well or the Freudian concept of id. There's a point in one song where the word is used four times in a single sentence - and it means something entirely different each time.
- A Hawk and a Hacksaw's name is a reference to Smollet's translation of Don Quixote: "...therefore, let every man lay his hand upon his heart and not pretend to mistake an hawk for a hand-saw..."note ; this was itself a reference to Hamlet: "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." They replaced "handsaw" with "hacksaw" as a reference to a meter from Balkan and Turkish music, called Aksak.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic album Even Worse is appropriately named, not only because it's spoofing Michael Jackson's Bad album, but because every other song parodied on the album is a then-recent cover of a hit from the 50's or 60's.
- Seen in WSU, Rayna Fire is a pun meaning on queen, rain and reign and fire, on the fact she is a redhead.
- Genya Arikado from Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow. "Arikado" means "to have horns", implying some relation to demons. More importantly, his name is one vowel sound away from the Japanese pronunciation of Alucard.
- Sunny Day of Backyard Sports has a name that is both a reference to "sunny day," reflecting her personality, and to the co-founder of Humongous Entertainment, Shelley Day.
- Ōkami takes advantage of how the long-o prefix denotes something big or great, making the term "great god", as well as the word normally being Japanese for "wolf". As noted in the Anime section, kami can also mean "paper" or "hair," which suits someone who manifests her powers by painting things with a brush.
- Also, wolf hair is a typical material in calligraphy pens.
- Xion and Vanitas from the Kingdom Hearts series. Let's see...
- Xion: She's named after a flower (shion) that symbolises remembrance. Not only is Xion made of someone's memories, but she's eventually erased from the mind of everyone who knew her. 'Shio' also means "tide" in Japanese, tying her into the Theme Naming of Kairi, Namine and Aqua. Oh, and, like the rest of the Organization, her name is an anagram with an "x" added: No. i, meaning an imaginary number.
- Vanitas: It means "emptiness" (and can even be defined by the appropriate kanji), and sounds similar to vanity and Ventus, his rival. To make it even better, the kanji for "emptiness" can also be used for "sky", hinting at their shared connection to Sora.
- The χ-blade is named for the Greek letter "chi". But it is also pronounced just like "Keyblade," the main weapons in the series.
- In the fan translation of Mother 3, Fassad's name is the arabic word for "greed", it also sounds like the word "facade", both of these are apt summations of the character who uses an overly nice face to hide all his Kick the Dog moments done to further his and his master's desires.
- One of the villagers in the Animal Crossing series is a white tiger named Bianca. Not only is her name the Italian word for white, but it sounds very similar to Byakko, the white tiger of The Four Gods. What makes this more interesting is that her name is not Bianca in Japan.
- In Everyday Heroes, Mr. Mighty has been known to exclaim "Great Siegel's Ghost!" This is based on the phrase "Great Caesar's Ghost", commonly used by Daily Planet editor Perry White in The Adventures of Superman... which starred a character created by Jerry Siegel.
- Futurama's Bender, referring both to his function as a bending unit and to the fact that he's constantly drinking alcohol (which he needs as fuel).
- As noted on the Meaningful Name page, in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph's name has six meanings. Even if a couple of them are accidental, the fact that most of them are quite punny, and all of them reference some element of her character is quite impressive.
- South Park, in "Smug Alert", probably has one. The Smugs all drive Hybrid cars. (As in combined gas/electric engine.) The obvious pun is with "hybris" (or "hubris", the usual spelling). The stealth pun is that in biology, a hybrid is a bastard...
- What exactly does the "hood" in "hood rat" refer to? Most likely, it's the fact that they live in the hood (ghetto). But it could appropriately refer to the fact that they might well be a Hood Ornament Hottie. Or, they are also rather likely to be wearing a jacket with a hood. All of these references are, at least, consistent with the meaning of the stereotype.
- Oscar Pistorius, the first ever double amputee to compete in the Olympics, has the nickname "Bladerunner", referencing both his prosthetic legs (blade-shaped springs) and the movie Blade Runner.