13.10. That name rings a bell.

Surnames.  Like many other countries, Britain has a lot of surnames which are nouns. Sometimes this has a historical origin. ‘Smith’, the most common surname means a type of tradesman, and still exists in occupations like, ‘blacksmith’, locksmith, etc. Look at this list of famous people below. Do you know what the second meaning is? Note that sometimes the spelling is different, but with the same pronunciation. (The correct spelling is in brackets.)

1. Elizabeth Taylor (Tailor) The name refers to a clothes maker.

2. Victor Mature ‘Mature’ is the opposite of ‘childish’ and means ‘sensible and responsible’.

3. William Hurt A verb or a noun to describe pain or damage.

4. George Bush A type of pathetic little disgusting-looking plant made up of many small branches. Many are disappearing thanks to the US president’s environmental policy.

5. Hugh Grant An amount of money given by an organisation for a specific purpose, such as a student would receive in order to study.

6. James Fox A wild animal that belongs to the dog family. It has the very large bushy tail.

7. Brad Pitt (Pit) A big hole in the ground.

8. Sharon Stone A type of rock.

9. Alexandra Pope The religious leader of the Catholic Church who lives in the Vatican.

10.Bob Hope A noun and verb referring to the wish that the future will bring something that you want.

11. Jeremy Irons ‘To iron’ is the action of flattening clothes with a hot appliance (an iron), and also a type of metal.

12. Terence Stamp We shouldn’t have to explain this, should we? It’ll be back to the beginner’s class for you, if you continue like this: This is the sticky thing that you buy in the post office and put on the outside of a letter before you send it. 


Fish and chip shops. Explain the puns or word play.

1. Pete’s Plaice. ‘Plaice’ is a homophone of ‘place’ (that is, two words with the same pronunciation). ‘Plaice’ is a type of fish, that is flat, and traditionally used in fish and chip shops; ‘place’, obviously refers to the shop or the premises.

2. The In Plaice. The same as the above example, but this time with the added complication that ‘the in place’ means ‘the most fashionable or popular place’.

3. In Cod we Trust. ‘Cod’ another type of fish, sounds very similar to the word ‘God’. ‘In God we trust’ is the phrase written across the top of an American dollar bill.

4. Cod Almighty. Like the above, but this time with a religious slant. ‘Almighty’ means ‘all powerful’, and also ‘enormous’.

5. Cod Father. Yet another variation on the same wordplay. A ‘godfather’ is the person chosen in a Christian baptism to give moral advise and support to the baby later in it’s life. It also has come to mean the father-figure in a mafia organisation, and was the title of a series of films based on the same theme. (‘God’ not ‘cod’.)

6. Fishy Business. Has the double meaning of ‘suspicious, questionable, false or dishonest behaviour’.

7. Fryer Tuck. ‘Friar’  is a man of a religious order who lives in a monastery. ‘Friar Tuck’ was the fat gentleman in Robin Hood’s band of thieves. ‘Fryer’ (the same pronunciation, another homophone) would presumably be a person who fries, or the receptacle used for cooking.

8. Fryday’s. Yet another homophone, this time with the same pronunciation as the day of the week ‘Friday’.

9. The Frying Scotsman. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was one of the most famous steam locomotive trains in Britain. This fish and chip shop is almost certainly owned by a Scotsman.

10. Chip Inn. You can’t escape those phrasal verbs, not even when getting a takeaway. ‘To chip in’ is a colloquial verb meaning ‘to make a collection of money’ or ‘to share the cost between a group of people’, (usually to buy a present for someone). The other meaning of ‘inn’ is a ‘tavern’, ‘pub’ or ‘restaurant’.


Hairdresser’s. Explain the puns or word play.

1. Hair Peace. A complicated one this! First, a ‘hair-piece’ is a wig (artificial hair!). ‘Peace’ is thus a homophone. The phrase was famously used by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the 1960s, when they had a public ‘bed-in’ in the Amsterdam Hilton and refused to get out of bed in support of world peace. A sign written above them declared ‘Hair peace, bed peace.’

2. Curls and Boys. A phonetic word play on the similarity between ‘girls’ and ‘curls’ the spiral shaped clumps of hair.

3. A Cut Above. ‘A cut above the rest’ is an idiomatic expression meaning ‘better than the rest’.

4. Urban Roots. ‘Roots’ are the hair follicles inside the skin from where hair grows. This is undoubtedly a city hairdresser’s.

5. Head to Head. A direct competition between two people of almost the same ability.

6. Beyond the Fringe. A ‘fringe’ could mean either: the little short line of evenly cut hair across a person’s forehead; or, the edge, outer or less important part of a society or group. 

7. Curl Up and Dye. ‘To curl up and die’ is an expression that talks about the way a person (or animal) lays on the ground in foetal position before dying. ‘To curl’ is to change hair from being straight to being wavy. ‘To dye’ is to change the colour of hair, and has the same pronunciation as ‘die’. 

8. Fringe Benefits. Like in example six, but this time with the meaning of ‘something that you get as an extra, or a bonus due to your position or job’. For example, a company car, or an expense account would be the fringe benefits of a good management job.

9. Mane Attraction. A pun on the homophones ‘mane’ and ‘main’. The first being a horse’s or lion’s hair; the second being a synonym of ‘the most important.


10.Hairlines. Sounds very like ‘airlines’.