Funny Words

By Shamus Posted Sunday Dec 6, 2009

Filed under: Random 138 comments

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.

1) Sword
2) Battleaxe
3) Spear
4) Lemon


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.


From The Archives:

138 thoughts on “Funny Words

  1. Maddy says:

    I think it has to do with etymology. A lot of the Anglo-Saxon-derived words strike me as funny (short, informal, often more phonetically spelled), while the Latin-based ones seem more formal and less funny. Maybe that’s just a personal quirk, though?

  2. Maddy says:

    Oh, and I think the word “frog” is hilarious. Frog. It’s just ridiculous that this is a real word.

  3. MelTorefas says:


  4. Mark says:

    “Dagger.” Is that someone who dags? What is dagging, anyway? If you take any word and repeat it enough times, it loses its meaning and just starts to sound weird. “Dagger” was the first word I did this with, so it still has that effect.

    Also, words that are singular but sound plural, like “physics.” You can’t really have a physic. I recall a section in the Expanded Psionic Handbook titled “What is Psionics?” and we made fun of it quite a bit. “Yes, what is psionics? And is our children learning them?”

  5. CaroCogitatus says:


    And, channeling George Carlin,

    Yogurt, Squash, and Wheat Germ.

  6. Nixorbo says:


  7. mcgurker says:

    “so then the skipper runs into gilligan while chasing after a weasel wielding a chainsaw…”

    also, blumpkin. Sorry, I’m immature. :D

  8. Grendel says:


  9. Superkp says:

    Without looking at any of the others: specifically from Calvin and Hobbes: “Smock! Smock smock smock…”

  10. Davie says:

    As for body parts: Pancreas. I noticed this while playing Dwarf Fortress:
    Troll punches you in the pancreas!
    It is Broken!
    You have been struck down.

    Midget is another one. If I can think of more in the next 15 minutes I’ll add them.

    Oh, wait, how about narwhal? That always cracked me up for some reason.

  11. KathleenB says:

    Uvula! I love that word, because as Dave Barry said, it sounds dirty but isn’t. And it’s fun to say!

  12. KathleenB says:

    Mark: Dagging is cutting the hem of a garment into shapes. It’s a time consuming pain in the arse, but comes off beautifully. Many lovely examples here:

  13. Jericho says:


    Nut Snack.

    Mostly because they sound like dirt words.

  14. froogger says:

    “Puddle” always tickles my fancy. Now I’ll have a look at what the others wrote…

  15. Will says:

    Words by themselves aren’t that funny. We’re getting into unfunny territory. But a combination of words that you have never heard together, that’s funny… A Non-Sequitur, I believe it’s called?

  16. Juni says:

    I remember helping my dad come up with some funny words a while back… I think in the end, I came up with “waffle” and he said “chimney”.

  17. ima420r says:



    My daughter is 9 and laughs when ever she hears it.

  18. Hands down…



  19. Andy says:

    Gusset. And porridge.

  20. Rutskarn says:

    Cadge, nethers, jackass, nostril.

    My pet peeve is the overuse of ducks as funny animals. Yeah, I did get contractually roped into that one story with the guy and the duck totem, but ducks are overall pretty mild as far as funny birds go. Eagles can actually be pretty funny, if you use them right.

  21. Rolaran says:

    “Musical Instruments” is another good category to mine for inherently funny words. Just off the top of my head:

    Banjo, Harmonica, Bouzouki, Timpani, Didgeridoo, Alpenhorn…

  22. Vegedus says:

    Cowabunga. Dyslexia… For some odd reason. Omnotomorpho… Whatever. The word for a sound turned into a word, and the word for the phobia regarding really long words. Both long words. A lot of internet exaggerated slang like Lawl, Lollercopter, Lulz and so on.

    I think that once you’ve seen/heard a word used in enough humourous context, you begin to associate the word itself with humour.

  23. Manni says:




  24. scragar says:

    Vegedus(#25): Onomatopoeia?

    The way I remember it is to break it into 3s with the O-something-Os: ono, mat, opo, eia. Mat shouldn’t be too hard to solve, the ono and opo parts fix themselves, the only hard part is the very end, which is easy to solve if you just remember that the word ends sounding like you’re saying “pee ya”.

    As for words I find funny the only one I can think of is Banana.

  25. Legendary Bard says:

    The word “spool” is quite humorous.

  26. Ell Jay says:


  27. Gavin says:

    Here’s the appropriate Monty Python clip.
    (Feel free to ignore the video, the audio was originally from one of their records)

  28. Bryan says:


    OK, not really a word, but a hilarious-sounding fake body part. (From Irregular Webcomic.) :-)

    (What, you wanted actual words? Aw, come on… :-P)

  29. Heron says:



  30. Andrew says:


  31. Brandon says:

    Discombobulate and boob.
    Also, Mister Fancy Pants, care of Jonathan Coulton, from his show here in Cleveland in Octover.

  32. Ravens Cry says:

    Squished, where the -ed is pronounced like the short form of Edward.

  33. Rutskarn says:

    Nearly forgot leprosy and carpet-bagger.

  34. Gobo says:


    Just love that word. :)

  35. Lanthanide says:

    Gourd. Codpiece.

  36. Waffles, bunnies, wombat.

  37. RichVR says:

    Fusilli. HA!

  38. Sam says:

    I’ll go with a couple of old standards: banana and guacamole!

    Then there’s strudel. And, of course, chainsaw!

  39. kikito says:

    “Solar plexus”. Sounds like something you put in the roof of a house.

  40. Blake says:

    Milk, spork, shale.

  41. PurpleKoopa says:

    Don’t forget about onomatopoeia! Boink! Doing! Splut! As for non-onomatopoeia words… Duck. Chicken. Badger. Mushroom. Onion. Kneecap. I could go on all day with funny words.

  42. MPR says:

    I am thoroughly gruntled with this post.
    What, “disgruntled” is a word so “gruntled” should be too, right?

  43. Aaron says:

    Generally i would say anything with double o sound is pretty amusing. such as poodle, shampoo, food, balut, newt etc.

    I’m fond of avuncular, however

  44. RustyBadger says:


    Also, a second vote for the bulbous bouffant song. At random intervals around our house, you will hear someone shout “mukluk!”, “gazeebo!”, “foible!” or “blubber!”.

  45. CuChullain says:

    What is dagging, anyway?

    There is a saying here in Oz ‘dagging about’ which means to hang around aimlessly and comes from the saying to hang around “like dags on a sheep’s bum”.

    And for reference a ‘dag’ is the end result of a woolly sheep’s less than sanitary toilet habits.

    However, I doubt any of this has anything to do with knives.

  46. pwiggi says:

    I have 2 words that can make me laugh with no context:

    1. Cow
    2. Spoon

  47. Zeta Kai says:

    I recall that the use of the word “trowel” (as in a gardening trowel) would send my friend into stitches. It became a pervasive meme among our circle of friends. Also, the word “moist”, especially when spoken with a campy semi-lisp, would be enough to elicit laughter. They because the first of a short list of Silly Words.

    My personal favorite? Spunky.

  48. Mephane says:


    When I heard that word for the first time, from the mere sound it was obvious what it meant, heh.

  49. Kreek says:


    i have heard it said that booger can make small kids fall in fits of laughter just by uttering it

  50. someguy says:

    always triggers a grin on my german speaking mouth:


  51. TuskyBoy says:


  52. Moon, fizzle, Albuquerque, troll, dink.

  53. Moon, fizzle, Albuquerque, troll, dink, asp.

  54. Chad says:

    Antidisestablishmentarianism, vulva, Richard. (I dunno, there is just something about that name.)

  55. Sauron says:


  56. Dev Null says:


  57. Yar Kramer says:


  58. Atarlost says:

    A few in no particular order:


    1. Scott says:

      Funniest saying Ive ever heard? “Im too exhaustipated to decrapitate”

  59. droid says:

    Bucket and puddle used in proximity to each other.

  60. DrinkingWithSkeletons says:

    Deathtrap. You are going to use yourself as bait. To catch Death. Similar to the phrase “catch your death of ______.”

  61. Sannindi says:


    Makes me giggle every time.

    More generally, old words which were at one time considered obscene but have since fallen out of common parlance tend to hit the mark in general.

  62. Shawn says:

    Huh huh, he said “bungalow”.

  63. galenloke says:


  64. Obfuscation.

    It’s a word which describes itself, in a deprecating manner.

    EDIT: Oh, and “crotchety”!

  65. Fosse says:

    I work in sketch comedy, satire, and improvisation.

    Many folks from this background believe that words with a hard “K” sound in them (skunk, truncate, cake) are inherently funnier than those without it. This is a seriously considered point when folks are trying to find just the right word for a laugh.

    So when writing for comedy and trying to select between several words for your laugh line, go for the one a “K,” all other things being equal.

  66. Sho says:

    Shuttlecock! And cauliflower.

    Still working on having a legitimate reason to use those words in a sentence. I should play more Badminton.

    Edit: Also zounds.

  67. Joe says:


  68. ehlijen says:


    Sorry, it’s german, but it’s a word that only exists to show the inherent hilarity of what my friend calls ‘word lego’ (ie stringing words together).

  69. Aergoth says:


  70. The Stranger says:

    Cantankerous. Marmoset. Cantankerous marmoset.

  71. ernest says:


  72. ClearWater says:

    I’ve heard that gherkin is a funny word but I don’t get it.

    I think frigorific is a cool word.

  73. MPR says:

    More Monty Python – some words are woody and others are tinny.

    Edit: Heh, Daf already posted it 3 comments up. :)

  74. Cuthalion says:

    Shashin (Japanese for photo, iirc… makes excellent sound effect)

  75. Epopisces says:


    It’s also interesting to listen to many of these words as spoken by people hailing from other parts of the country or world. An accent can add a lot to a word.

  76. Ben says:

    Re: #9 mcgurker: Sir, I do believe it was a prune-eating weasel.

  77. Cuthalion says:

    Gah! I forgot about “spool”! Thanks, 29.

  78. Kaeltik says:


  79. glassdirigible says:

    At one point one of my friends pointed out that “ass bong” is a very funny phrase. To this day we have difficulty saying it without laughing.

  80. Cuthalion says:

    I spy a trend!

    Sounds that use the lips seem to be very funny: “w” and “b” especially, but also “v”, “r”, “f”, “p”, “o”, and “oo”.

    Approximants/fricatives like “l” and “sh” are up there, too, but not as high.

    I think “w” is in so many funny words because it’s both a lip-sound (“labial”) and an approximant.

    Also, someone mentioned “k” being inherently funny, and I think that’s correct, too. This is probably due to its abruptness, as I notice several mentioned words sound very… well, rapid.

    So, according to my theory, the funniest word in existence should have a “w”, an “l” or “sh”, and a “k”.


  81. Cuthalion says:

    Ooo! I got it…


  82. mookers says:

    “3) Animal sounds are always silly, but I think “Moo” is the king of them.”

    “Moo” happens to be my last name :D

  83. Maddy says:

    Dunno about “moo.” It’s funny, but is it funnier than “oink”?

  84. mookers says:

    Well, I’m thankful that my last name isn’t Oink. :P

  85. PsionicFox says:

    Scallop is one of those words.

    As is “soil”. And “ectoplasm”…

  86. Sesoron says:

    Boggle and goggle. They were an inside joke between me and a friend of mine for a while.

  87. Turbosloth says:

    Discombobulate and Moist are probably my two favorite, other than the ever reliable ‘pants’

  88. Steve C says:

    “Bonobo” (species of extremely sexually active ape)


    “Shamus” (T’is a silly proper noun.)

  89. DM T. says:

    Almost sounds like a demon’s name
    It was very funny to encounter a “Dread Gazebo” during my first game of Munchkin.

  90. Falco Rusticula says:

    “Select” always struck me as being weird to say out loud. “Elite” and “naiive” also sound a bit odd, but not as much.

  91. CatPerson says:

    Keeping with the food theme, “meatballs”. Also “stuffing”.

  92. Melf_Himself says:


    Did I win?

  93. thisisant says:


    Google it. (Totally SFW)

    Also, Grobbynolofroidicality.

  94. Helm says:

    Gotta go with Aardvark and Strumpet

  95. Lilfut says:

    I made a whole blog. Click my name, assuming this doesn’t get caught by the spam filter (FOR THE THIRD TIME)

  96. Huckleberry says:


  97. Mari says:

    In the vein of animal words “buzzard” is nearly as funny as “weasel” to me.

    Other random funny words include “weed whacker” and “fun dome.”

    They stack nicely into this absurd observation “I got the buzzard out of my pants at the Fun Dome with a weed whacker.”

  98. Alleyoop says:

    Chucklehead. Canteloupe. Buick.

  99. Andrew says:


  100. Brian says:

    Monkey. Monkey is inherently funny.

    Note that monkeys (the animal) are not necessarily funny. They smell bad and can be dangerous. But the word “monkey” is funny in every situation.

  101. Groboclown says:

    Mel Brooks once said that the funniest word in the English language is chicken.

    I personally prefer bouffant.

  102. Zaghadka says:


    (something about the backwards “tiptoe” in that sends me funny)

  103. Syal says:

    Anything with the “Mecha” prefix. Like MechaBum.

    Oh yeah, I left out Hippie.

  104. krellen says:


  105. Commenting without reading anything above.

    I think plenty of animal names are funny. Platypus, ocelot, kangaroo, wombat, (and of course weasel).

    One of the funnier monsters in D&D is the dire badger.

    Internal organs are funny, especially if they’re small and most people have no clue what they’re for. Spleen and pancreas spring to mind. Lungs and stomach are kind of funny too. Strangely, the appendix isn’t terribly funny, probably because most people know it’s pointless (unlike the spleen, which most people assume must have some vital function they’re just not quite sure what it is).

    Weird Al is the king of funny words. If I could remember more of his songs I’d probably be able to come up with a long list of hilarious words.

    At the same time, I’m not sure that any word is truly funny all by itself. I think that most “funny words” have some kind of implied context that makes them funny. Take pants for example. The english language must have hundreds of jokes (at least) where the punchline revolves around the word “pants”. Pants are funny because they immediately suggest a variety of humorous situations.

    Likewise, I’m not sure that “weasel” is a funny word. I think maybe weasels are just funny animals. Most synonyms for weasel are funny to varying degrees. (My personal favorite is marmut, thanks to a memorable scene from the Big Lebowski).

    I hope you enjoy this long post in which I overthink the topic.

    There, I’ve just overthought this topic.

  106. SoP says:


  107. Lilfut says:

    @SoP: I would like to see those objects interact.

  108. OddlucK says:


  109. Df458 says:

    Thylakoid. Hands down.
    Or mattock, if used properly.

  110. Ross says:

    Pancreas for body parts.
    Aardvark for animals.
    Autodefenstrate for miscellaneous.

  111. xbolt says:

    Djibouti and Quark are two of my favorites.

    “I like to say ‘quark’!” -Hobbes

  112. neminem says:

    Utterly random thoughts that come to my head within a couple minutes:
    Boink. Twiddle. Tinker. Spud. Sprocket. Bazooka.

    Also, like every Yiddish word ever.

    And fake cusswords, like “frell” and “frack”, though they’re funnier for different reasons (Getting Crap Past the Censors is always funny).

  113. Skeeve the Impossible says:


  114. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Hey MPR of course gruntled is a word. You have to be gruntled before you can be disgruntled

  115. ahanna says:

    This is a word to describe rotund people.

  116. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    You know what, cantaloupe is pretty funny and so is dork. I’m also a fan of giblets and Uranus. I’m an even bigger fan of giblets IN Uranus. I mean how did the innards of a bird get all the way out and embed themselves in the 7th planet from the sun. *silliness*

  117. glassdirigible says:

    @ahanna: My friends and I once made a pumpkin pie in a casserole dish. I named it the plumpkin.

  118. Korivak says:

    “Squeegee”. So many long Es in a row!

  119. Jeff says:

    The Dilbert guy did this before, I wonder if I can locate his list…

  120. Jeysie says:

    I’ve always been fond of “asphalt” (which just has a funny sound) and “defenestration” (which sounds dirty but isn’t, plus as a bonus the related action is usually either badass or funny).

  121. gravitybear says:


  122. Ciaran says:

    For me, ‘knuckle’ is hands-down (sorry) the funniest bodypart name ever. Even better than the humerus. I should shut up.

  123. Anoria says:

    #11 Superkp: #120 Xbolt had the correct version. It’s “Quark quark quark quark!” unless Watterson used the same gag twice.

    #122 neminem: I was just talking today about how “frak” annoys the frass out of me, because it’s so obviously fabricated to sound like its obscene counterpart, and it’s always sounded forced and unnatural when people use it, either in BSG or irl. Frell isn’t quite so much of an offender because it’s more distinct.

    “Spleen” has also been overused in my opinion. People *always* go for the spleen when trying to come up with a funny-sounding body part.

    There was a Garfield strip ages (decades!) ago, addressing this point for food. Liver and potatoes are classified as not funny, while beets and prunes are, chicken is particularly so, and the combination of pickles and kumquats sends Garfield into hysterics.

    Frass is the technical term for insect poo, by the way. Yes, poo is on my list too. Poop not quite as much. Flee is funny. Bubble, and trouble. Peanut. And I’ve always loved the word spiky, though I’m not sure if it’s funny or just fun.

  124. Robel says:


  125. Clavicle, Squeakual, Wombat, Wong.

  126. Kelly says:

    Buffalo Windowsill.

  127. Audrey says:


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.