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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

To put it simply, this is 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 accidental, which can lead to Analogy Backfire if other meanings make less sense or outright contradict the original.

Anime and other Japanese media often has this in the form of a Bilingual Bonus. For instances which occur in titles, see Pun-Based Title and Double Meaning Title. Subtrope to Double Meaning.

Examples of Multiple Reference Pun include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Thompson Sisters in Soul Eater could be a reference to the Thompson machine gun 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.
    • Okami 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".
    • 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 multiple writing systems.
  • In Yu Yu 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 and 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".

Comic Books

  • 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 with 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.
    • 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 agency Mortadelo Y Filemon work for is called T.I.A., which is an obvious reference to the CIA. Since "tia" in Spanish means "aunt", the name also works as a pun on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., fitting since it's a Spanish series about comedic espionage.


  • 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.


Live-Action TV

  • Top Gear, during the Alfa Romeo challenge James May and Richard Hammond have (as is customary) betrayed Jeremy Clarkson's genius idea to avoid being overtaken. Both suffered breakdowns shortly after leading to this comment from Jeremy.

  Clarkson: Brutus Hammond was out with a broken water-pump and then it was the turn of Cassius May.

  • The Sopranos usually gave its episodes such names. An example is "Rat Pack", which can refer to the famous Rat Pack from the 60s, a picture of which Tony receives as a present, though the same episode also focused on the FBI's multiple informants within the Mafia, making them a "rat pack" too.
  • Arrested Development had a double entendre for the title of almost every episode, not to mention the title of the series itself. (It obviously refers to the mental immaturity of the main cast, but it's also about a real estate developer who gets arrested.)
  • In Kamen Rider OOO, "OOO" is pronounced like "oh's", with "oh" being the Japanese word for "king"; it visually resembles the circular Medals that OOO uses to transform; and it also resembles the infinity symbol with an extra loop, which is claimed within the series to mean beyond infinity.


  • 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..."[2]; 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 idiom "A friend in need is a friend indeed" has four potential meanings based on the interpritations 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]).

Video Games

  • Genya Arikado from Castlevania. "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Web Comics

  • In the Web Comic 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.

Western Animation

  • The title of the Futurama episode "Bend Her" is both a reference to the episode's plot of Bender getting a sex change to compete as a woman in the Olympics and a reference to the movie "Ben-Hur," not to mention the pun on Bender's own name.

Real Life

  • 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.
  1. Don't Explain the Joke Grave, get it?
  2. other versions of Quixote contrast black and white, rather than a hawk and a handsaw