Figure of Speech: paronomasia (par oh no MAY zha), the near-pun.
A paronomasia isn’t a pun in the strictest sense. A pun uses different meanings for the same word. (The hunter didn’t like buffalo, but moose was deer to him.) A paronomasia is far more annoying, because it uses different words that are homonyms; they only sound alike.
In ancient times and right up through Shakespeare’s era, people didn’t look down on wordplay. A pun—and its country cousin, paronomasia—let the speaker sound two meanings at once, like a musician striking a chord, or like a really good yodeler. (Wait: yodelers have always been annoying. Forget yodelers.)
What's In It for You: Parents
should spend less time correcting their kids’ grammar and turn
mealtimes into language playgrounds. When your kid whips out her paronomasia, try to laugh.