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The Dream Detective Blog: Puns & Plays on Words in Dreams

April 18, 2017

The Dream Detective Blog: Puns & Plays on Words in Dreams

Artwork by Punny Pixels

by Mimi Pettibone

Dreams love the use of puns and plays on words, as well as visually depicting both puns and verbal expressions. When listening to a dream I always have my radar up for any type of pun or imagery that might indicate another layer of meaning. Following are some examples.

A woman dreamed she was kissing a man, and much as she wanted it to be a good kiss his upper was sticking out in such a strange way that it just would not move. This image had her stumped and took some time to decipher. Eventually she said “why would his upper lip be so stiff?” and that’s when the light bulb went off! If you asked this dreamer what it meant to have a ‘stiff upper lip’, she might not have been able to tell you with her conscious mind as this was not a saying she used. However, when we explored the standard meanings of the phrase, it clicked. It turns out the person she was attempting to connect with was experiencing hurt feelings, yet trying to hide them. In this case it was not a romantic partnership, as kissing can be a symbol for connection of any kind. This was an employee she was interacting with on a work project, and her subconscious mind had clearly picked up that he was trying very hard not to show his hurt feelings regarding constructive feedback she had recently given him on how to improve his work. Even though consciously she was not sure she knew what the expression ‘stiff upper lip’ meant, her subconscious mind knew very well and found a visual way to illustrate this verbal saying. She was then able to show some compassion for her colleague and give him as much positive feedback as possible, in addition to ways to improve when necessary. The dream revealed emotional dynamics that were going on under the surface, in a way that allowed her to repair and improve their professional relationship going forward.

A man applied to a job for which he was exceptionally well qualified. He later found out that a friend of the boss - who was not as well qualified - was hired instead. That night the man had a dream that his friend Rob got the job instead of him. Since his friend Rob did not actually apply for the job or work in the same field in waking life, I asked the dreamer if he felt ‘robbed’ because he did not get the job. He said “Absolutely yes!” It’s always interesting to look at the names of people and things to see if they might double as words with another meaning. They don’t have to be spelled the same, as the non-linear mind does not care about logical things like spelling. For example, names of people such as: Mark, Jean, Melody, Bill, Rusty, Crystal, June, Hunter, and Patience can hold double meaning. Names of inanimate objects, and even car models such as Triumph, Fury, Swinger, and Dart can also hold another layer of significance.  

A single woman who was looking for love had a dream she was checking the mail. Based on other factors in the dream, I asked her if it was possible she was ‘checking the male’ population around her, as in checking them out. It fit with the rest of the dream and what was relevant for her, and we had a good laugh.

A man found out I work with dreams and casually told me he had a dream that he was peeing on his neighbor. Since this was not a private session I just asked him quickly “Well, are you ‘pissed’ at him?” He laughed and said “YES!”

Now here is some fun for you. Look at the illustrations below…can you decipher the visual puns that are depicted? To find the answers, scroll to the bottom of my bio below.

Artwork by Kathleen Kowal Design & Illustration

Artwork by Punny Pixels

Artwork by Punny Pixels


Much thanks to Eunice Ng and Nandini Trivedi of Punny Pixels, and Kathleen Kowall Design and Illustration for giving permission to use their fun and clever artwork to illustrate this article!



Mimi Pettibone is the creator of the ‘Enchanted Art Oracle Cards’, and offers private consultations at East West Bookshop and by phone. Her practice includes dream interpretation and personal growth work focused on relationships, communication and authentic life path. Her background includes psychology, relationships & communication, spirituality, dreams, intuition, and consciousness. Mimi is also a monthly dream columnist for the New Spirit Journal
For more info on Mimi, or to book a consultation: 

Answer Key to Visual Puns:

Snail Mail

Grate (Great) Opportunity

Couch Potato

Brain Storm

Emotional Baggage

Negative Space

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