Storytelling Devices | Wordplays and Alt Definitions

dream interpretation dictionary

Throughout my dream dictionary I give examples of how dreams tell stories.

Other Storytelling Devices Used in Dreams

Dreams use wordplays, alternate definitions of words and other tricks of language and narration as storytelling devices. For example:

  • A character named Christian in a dream refers to the beliefs of Christianity.
  • A safe — the big metal kind — can symbolize feeling safe.
  • A bear can mean “bare.”
  • A bug, the insect, can mean “to bug,” meaning “to bother.”
  • A hospital can mean “hospitality.”
  • The sun can mean “son.”
  • A pupil is the light receptor of the eye, or it’s a student, and one can represent the other.
  • Jeans can mean “genes.”
  • Pointing to a knee in a dream can mean pointing out a need.
  • A Russian in a dream can be a wordplay for “in a rush.”

Alternate definitions of words are used as symbolism and usually shown in the actions of a dream. Such as when “adopt” means “take on” and acted out as adopting a pet or child. “Ditch” means “abandon” and is acted out in a dream as leaving something in a ditch. If “bug” means “bother,” the dream will show it as a bug bothering you.

A man dreams that he sees a hole in the son and responds strongly in his feelings. His father had recently died, leaving a hole in the son’s life. It’s a visual metaphor and a brief but important scene in the dream, and knowing what the hole in the sun means helps the man to decode other scenes in the dream.

What is a family business? It’s any business conducted for the family, and dreams can compare the one to the other to tell a story about your family life or what it feels like where you work or go to school — your “other family.” A terrific example dream is given in the Resolution chapter under the subheading “Working for the Family Business.”

Narrative Components | Dream Resolutions


Example: Wordplay in a Dream

I dream that I’m in a high-speed train and see women bending over to pick up cantaloupe in the exit well. I sense a man behind me when one of the women reaches up to hand me a piece of cantaloupe. I tell her no thanks, “I cantaloupe.”


storytelling in dreams

Do you hear the wordplay? She “can’t elope.” In other words, her life is going by quickly and in a definite direction, symbolized as riding in the train. She senses a man coming into her life — or at least, she’s open to having a new romantic relationship — and she’s telling herself she can’t just run off with someone, like eloping.

Other than understanding symbolism, understanding how dreams tell stories is your best path to grasping their meaning. The more you learn about storytelling, the more you learn about your dreams. And vice-versa; exploring your dreams can make you a better storyteller!

Visit to explore storytelling devices.

The examples below show how dreams use wordplay and alternative word definitions to create meaning and symbolism.



Rape Dreams | Interpret the Meaning and Message

Dream Interpretation: Animals in Dreams – A Primer

Cheating Dreams Explained | What It Means to Cheat in a Dream

Meaning of dreams about oral sex, fellatio, blow jobs