What Is a Double Entendre?

double entendre is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase can be understood in two ways, especially when one meaning is risqué. Also called innuendo.

One of the most famous double entendres in American advertising is the slogancreated by Shirley Polykoff to promote Clairol hair coloring: “Does she or doesn’t she?”

The phrase double entendre (from the French, now obsolete, for “double meaning”) is sometimes hyphenated and sometimes italicized.

Examples and Observations

  • “Rebecca Kordecki . . . created little booties and a slide kit to use while performing moves that strengthen and lengthen the body. The name Booty Slideis a double entendre, she explains: ‘We wear the booties on our feet, but the workout also lifts your booty.'”
    (Carlene Thomas-Bailey, “American Fitness Crazes Hit the UK.” The Guardian, Dec. 28, 2010)
  • “While many mento songs are about traditional ‘folksong’ subjects, from political commentary to simple day-to-day life, a disproportionately large number of the songs are ‘bawdy songs,’ often featuring poorly-veiled (and delightfully funny) sexual double-entendres. Popular mento songs include references to ‘Big Bamboo,’ ‘Juicy Tomatoes,’ ‘Sweet Watermelon,’ and so on.”
    (Megan Romer, “Jamaican Mento Music 101,” About.com World Music)

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