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PLAYING WITH WORDS, also wordplay. Any adaptation or use of words to achieve a humorous, ironic, satirical, dramatic, critical, or other effect. Whereas a play on words is a PUN, playing with words is verbal wit or dexterity at large and includes puns. One may play with the sound, spelling, form, grammar, and many other aspects of words: (1) Sound. ‘Oh why can they not be made to see that all they have found is another man? A fellow man. A yellow man. A Jell-O man. A hollow man …’ ( Colleen McCullough, A Creed for the Third Millennium, 1985), alluding to T. S. Eliot's religious poem ‘The Hollow Men’ (1925). (2) Spelling. In 1653, Isaak Walton published The Compleat Angler, ‘compleat’ being his normal spelling for ‘complete’. In 1987, Valerie Grove published The Compleat Woman, echoing Walton. In a review, Carol Rumens noted: ‘Depicted on the back-jacket with her brood of four, Valerie Grove is clearly on her way to becoming compleat in her own right’ (Observer, 18 Oct. 1987). (3) Form. Writing for the New York Times in 1988, William Safire referred to advertising usage as ‘the work of the copywrongers … copywriters who make mistakes in grammar on purpose’. (4) Grammar. The British reference book Who's Who (founded 1849) contains biographies of ‘people of influence and interest in all fields’. Its sister publication, Who Was Who, records the deceased. In 1987, a publisher brought out Who's Had Who, discussing known and alleged sexual relations among the famous. (5) All of language. In Ulysses (1922), Joyce employs such expressions as Lawn Tennyson, gentleman poet, and a base barreltone voice. In Finnegans Wake (1939) he has the hanging garments of Marylebone and all moanday, tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, fightday, shatterday. See BLEND, HUMOUR, NONCE WORD, NONSENSE, TECHNOSPEAK, TIMESPEAK.