Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

In America we celebrate just about everything, so it may come as no surprise to you that early each January, pun-up girls and pun gents observe National Save the Pun Week.

I’ve been a pun gent all my life and truly believe that the pun is worth celebrating — all year round. After all, the pun is mightier than the sword, and these days you are much more likely to run into a pun than into a sword.

No one is sure of the origin of the word pun, but the best guess is that pun is a shortening of the Italian puntiglio, “a small or fine point.” Punnery is largely the trick of compacting two or more ideas within a single word or expression. Punnery challenges us to apply the greatest pressure per square syllable of language. Punnery surprises us by flouting the law of nature that pretends that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Punnery is an exercise of the mind at being concise.

Using the criteria of verbal pyrotechnics, humor and enduring popularity of the prey on words, I present my picks for the top dozen blue-ribbin’ puns of all time:

Sharpen your pun cells, O pun pals. Let’s get to wit:

12. What do you get when you cross a gorilla with a clay worker? A Hairy Potter!

11. What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros? Elephino!

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

9. “Take my wife — please!” (Henny Youngman)

8. A good pun is like a good steak — a rare medium well done.

7. As one frog croaked to another: “Time’s fun when you’re having flies!”

6. “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” (Groucho Marx)

5. One of the greatest men of the 20th century was the political leader and ascetic Mahatma Gandhi. His denial of the earthly pleasures included the fact that he never wore anything on his feet. He walked barefoot everywhere. Moreover, he ate so little that he developed delicate health and very bad breath. Thus, he became known as a super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis!

4. What did the Buddhist priest say to the hot dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.” And the same holy man said to his dentist, “I wish to transcend dental medication.”

3. Two ropes walked into an old western saloon. The first rope went up to the bar and ordered a beer. “We don’t serve ropes in this saloon,” sneered the bartender, who picked up the rope, whirled him around in the air, and tossed him out into the street.

“Oh, oh. I’d better disguise myself,” thought the second rope. He ruffled up his ends to make himself look rougher and twisted himself into a circle to look bigger. Then he too sidled up to the bar.

“Hmmm. Are you one of them ropes?” snarled the bartender.

“I’m a frayed knot.”

2. You better watch out, or my karma will run over your dogma.

And the No. 1 pun of all time, created by the incomparable Dorothy Parker:

1. “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

Do you have a top pun that you’d like to share? If so, wing it to me at the e-mail address below.

Please send your questions and comments about language to richard.lederer@utsandiego.com www.verbivore.com