on Dec 6, 2009
Over at Chainmail Bikini we’ve been having a running conversation about “funny words”. Words which are kind of funny in and of themselves.
The examples given in the comic include the word “pants” and “weasel”. The innate humor of the word pants is demonstrated here.
Now, almost any word can be funny if it’s just incongruous enough.
But some words go above and beyond this. They feel funny or odd or silly, even before they’re integrated with a proper joke. Some of my favorites:
1) The aforementioned “Pants” and “Weasel”.
2) Too many foods to mention. I suppose some of the funniest ones would be “pudding” and “bacon”.
3) Animal sounds are always silly, but I think “Moo” is the king of them.
4) Swear words are a double-edged sword. They will make the joke funnier for some, and kill the joke for others. We all have a level of profanity we’re familiar and comfortable with. If you exceed that by just a bit, it can intensify the joke. But if you go too far past that point, it just seems like you’re trying to hard, or overcompensating. It’s like over-salting food.
5) Lots of body parts are funny: Butt, nose, gizzard, spleen, elbow. Shoulder? Not so much.
Exercise: What word just really strikes you as funny? (Other than the ones I’ve already listed.) Try to come up with one and enter it into the comments below without reading the others. I’m curious what we’ll get, and what patterns will emerge. If any.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.