The medieval existence of a sexual meaning for the word cunning, rendering the word itself available for sexual puns, remains unrecognized today, in part because the Middle English Dictionary (MED) fails to include any instance demonstrating such use. But a line from the popular Proverbs of Hending, written before 1325, witnesses to the fourteenth-century availability of the sense. This article discusses the value of literary puns, shows numerous instances in which Chaucer appears to pun sexually on the word cunning, and explains the incarnational implications of the linking of body and spirit in such a pun. It also explores the MED's omission of the relevant quotation from the entry for cunning, examining the MED's archived slips and considering the editorial conventions that should have required inclusion of the evidence from the Proverbs of Hending.

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