I had an interesting conversation with some friends about puns. After riding a bike for the first time in a long time, my friend David said it was “good to be back in the saddle,” and he wondered whether this counted as a pun.

Since a bicycle actually has a saddle (the more technical term for the seat), it could be argued that this is just a literal statement. On the other hand, “back in the saddle” also has a metaphoric meaning, so it could be argued that his statement has two simultaneous meanings, and therefore should indeed count as a pun.

It then occurred to me that this is an example of a class of statement whose literal and metaphorical meanings coincide — a metaphor for itself. You might say it is “autophorical”.

Here are some other autophorical statements. Perhaps you can think of more:

“Sorry, the train derailment threw me off track.”

“Hey, everybody on this cruise is in the same boat.”

“Drosophila were dropping like flies.”

“The entire soccer team is having a field day.”

“I went out on a limb to rescue your cat from that tree.”

“The editor cut my novel to five pages, to make a long story short.”

4 thoughts on “Autophorical”

  1. “To tell you the truth, I’m being completely honest with you”

    “Waiting in line for so long at the sewing shop got me pins and needles”

    “King Midas certainly had the Midas touch”

    “Nobody had opened my chocolates, they were in mint condition”

    “After the trip to the mechanic the car was running on all cylinders”

    “After carrying the shopping home all night, Stuart had bags under his eyes”

  2. “In a training course at the Center for Disease Control, personnel are instructed in avoiding infectious diseases like the plague”

    “The manager of the plantation extended an olive branch.”

    “I’ve just set up your user account on this genealogy web site, and Bob’s your uncle!”

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