See also: double-entendre


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According to Merriam-Webster [1] and OED, from rare and obsolete French double entendre, which literally meant "double meaning" and was used in the senses of "double understanding" or "ambiguity," but acquired its current suggestive twist after being first used in English in 1673 by John Dryden.[2] From French double (double) + entendre (to understand, to mean). (The phrase has not been used in French for centuries and would be ungrammatical in modern French.) The closest equivalent in modern French are double sens, which often has (but not always) the suggestiveness of the English expression, and sous-entendu which implies a subtext.[2]





After Jeff Bezos publicly accused David Pecker, the owner of American Media, Inc., of “extortion and blackmail”, the New York Post opened with a headline proclaiming, “BEZOS EXPOSES PECKER”. In the US, the word “pecker” is also slang for “penis”.

double entendre (plural double entendres or (nonstandard) double entendre)

  1. A phrase that has two meanings, especially where one is innocent and literal, the other risqué, bawdy, or ironic; an innuendo.
    • 1812, A treatise on politeness, tr. from the French by a lady, page 172
      Avoid all equivocal expressions, usually denominated double entendre; they are certain proofs of a mean and indelicate mind.
    • 1891, Paulist Fathers, Catholic World, page 785:
      It is a momentous crusade without the cross; and an insidious one, for the calumnies and double entendre against the church are well wrapped up and keenly distributed.
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, London: Rider/Hutchinson & Co., page 171:
      Churn and stick, and the agitation needed to make the butter, would obviously suggest sexual intercourse, and so the work song becomes an occasion for a series of double entendres in which the dairy maids could tease the men working in the vicinity and thus enact the courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi to make their work sacred.
    • 2000, James P. Lantolf, Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning, page 126:
      It is not only the teacher's play with single words, phrases, and double entendre that are common in my classroom data.