Definition of joke in English:



  • 1A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline.

    ‘she was in a mood to tell jokes’
    • ‘The timing of the jokes, including the funny ones, is way off.’
    • ‘One of them was also cracking a joke or telling a story.’
    • ‘Failure to understand a joke is often funnier than the original joke.’
    • ‘First, amateur comedians notoriously overestimate how funny their jokes are.’
    • ‘The joke may be funny, but all jokes have a shelf life.’
    • ‘There are some good jokes and the simple story is fair enough as it is.’
    • ‘These guys are so funny and laid back on stage, making jokes, telling stories, having a good time.’
    • ‘He laughed at what he thought was a funny joke - his funny joke.’
    • ‘Someone cracked a joke and the ensuing laughter jerked him out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality.’
    • ‘If a speaker does use humor in a speech, make certain the story, anecdote or joke is surefire funny with all listeners.’
    • ‘She's this gangly Asian lady who cracks lots of jokes which are actually funny.’
    • ‘Their long stories were often entertaining, and many of their jokes were funny.’
    • ‘We're looking for jokes, gags, funny stories, pictures, whatever, but they must be your original work.’
    • ‘He tells the funniest jokes and stories and he ends up dominating every conversation.’
    • ‘You're always the one cracking up the group with your jokes and stories.’
    • ‘Watch one funny movie, or read a funny story, or tell your friends three funny jokes, every single day.’
    • ‘He always had a great sense of humour and even during his illness he could still tell a joke or funny story.’
    • ‘Bill Cosby may have gained his fame and fortune telling jokes and funny stories.’
    • ‘She cracked funny jokes with a dry sense of humor at the perfect times.’
    • ‘The jokes are not as funny; the stories not as entertaining; the scripts a bit stale.’
    funny story, jest, witticism, quip, pleasantry
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    1. 1.1A trick played on someone for fun.
      • ‘I think it was a school joke or a prank to make you think that there is someone that knows who you truly are.’
      • ‘What once looked like a funny stunt now could quite easily be perceived as a cruel joke on a sick senior.’
      • ‘As you probably guessed, this list was a joke / hoax.’
      • ‘It almost seemed like a joke, a harmless prank one of his friends had pulled on him.’
      • ‘I can't accept anything without thinking that it must be some kind of joke or trick, or have some ulterior motive.’
      • ‘Muldowney told police at the time it had been a joke or prank but now realised just how serious it had been.’
      • ‘And even if this is all a big hoax or joke and you don't end up playing for Houston, I still hate you.’
      • ‘Speeches often take place on a raised stage at the front, and this area also acts as the setting for many of the jokes and tricks played on the new couple.’
      • ‘He would sneak around at night and set up jokes and tricks and then laugh at the staff members who got caught in them.’
      • ‘It's a prank by an employee or a feeble joke by the management.’
      • ‘‘Surely this was all some kind of joke, a stunt’.’
      • ‘To them it was a joke, some prank and they treated it like a day off.’
      • ‘Jay knew she wasn't invited, and this was all a big joke… a trick!’
      • ‘I doubt he was trying to trick me or play some inside joke.’
      • ‘Either way, the point was, it was all a trick, a joke, a scam - whatever you wanted to call it.’
      • ‘I knew none of those people had pulled that stunt last night as a joke.’
      • ‘Not to mention, my parents are going to think it's some joke or prank or something to get back at them.’
      • ‘She enjoys working with directors who make her laugh, and her sense of humour involves ludicrous situations rather than jokes or pranks.’
      • ‘It is thought that the hoax may have begun as a joke, but it got out of hand.’
      • ‘Malicia used to make me laugh when she told me of the harmless jokes and pranks she played earlier that day.’
      trick, practical joke, prank, stunt, hoax, jape
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    2. 1.2informal [in singular]A person or thing that is ridiculously inadequate.
      ‘the transportation system is a joke’
      • ‘Some consider the system to be a joke.’
      • ‘They are at the stage where they are beyond a joke and are becoming dangerous to drive on.’
      • ‘The system is a joke and the fact that employers can still find people to work under the table proves the job hunting clubs are ineffective and symbolize a bureaucracy gone mad.’
      • ‘The mother of a teenager killed during an argument about a dog has branded the British justice system a joke after his attacker was jailed for three years.’
      • ‘The NHS and education systems are a disgraceful shambles and the illegal asylum situation is not only a joke, it is dangerous.’
      • ‘One student told Cherwell that the current mail system was ‘a joke.’’
      • ‘If the site becomes a harbor for the worst excesses of postmodernism of a kind that have now been proposed, the city's skyline may become little more than an eyesore and a joke.’
      • ‘Taiwan's beaches are a joke and its reef systems are already threatened by even the current low levels of tourism.’
      • ‘I guess it just further demonstrates what a joke and a farce the Australian film industry is that it has to advertise in coffee shops to get people to go to its annual awards ceremony.’
      • ‘The Richmond High School basketball team is a joke.’
      • ‘Although I hear the minimum system requirements are a joke and you really need an alien computer from the future in order to play it in its full-featured adulterous glory.’
      • ‘This green bucket lark is a joke, and I am sure that every large family in Bolton will agree when I say that I can fill this in a couple of days, and you think that I can go a fortnight between collections?’
      • ‘Crony capitalism has turned the funding of American elections into both a joke and a menace and has made the public's business a matter of private interest.’
      • ‘What a ridiculous joke - but it illustrates how far some will go to rationalize their behavior.’
      laughing stock, figure of fun, source of amusement, object of ridicule
      farce, travesty, waste of time
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  • 1 Make jokes; talk humorously or flippantly.

    ‘she could laugh and joke with her colleagues’
    [with direct speech] ‘“It's OK, we're not related,” she joked’
    • ‘They joke about the hotly-disputed incident every time they meet.’
    • ‘We all climbed down the steps leading to the club underground, laughing and joking the whole way.’
    • ‘I joke with strangers and they generally react well.’
    • ‘You joke a lot in interviews about how you wanted to write horror because you experienced so much of it in high school.’
    • ‘In my discussions with Billy, we joked a lot about the incident among other things.’
    • ‘He would be laughing and joking one moment and then totally different the next.’
    • ‘We can joke about it but this is a serious problem.’
    • ‘Who's your favorite celebrity to joke about and why?’
    • ‘We'd joke a little, but mostly we were just taking care of business.’
    • ‘This is one thing because people joke about it all the time.’
    • ‘He also took time out to joke with reporters and photographers.’
    • ‘And even then, you shouldn't joke about them because you don't understand.’
    • ‘Gracien laughed and joked a lot, Eva was smiling and quiet, and Rosie was funny in a sarcastic manner.’
    • ‘People ask me that all the time and they joke with me.’
    • ‘I joke about the stalking stuff on the other blog.’
    • ‘We all joke that none of us are either rich or famous.’
    • ‘We can joke about our differences, because they're obvious and expected.’
    • ‘The commentators joke with each other in the easy manner that comes with long hours spent together.’
    • ‘Her friend warns her not to joke about such things.’
    • ‘You know, you joke about things like hoping you aren't last.’
    fool, fool about, fool around, play a prank, play a trick, play a joke, play a practical joke, tease, hoax, pull someone's leg, mess someone about, mess someone around
    tell jokes, crack jokes
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    1. 1.1archaic [with object]Poke fun at.
      ‘he was pretending to joke his daughter’


  • be no joke

    • informal Be a serious matter or difficult undertaking.

      ‘trying to shop with three children in tow is no joke’
      • ‘To me that is no joke, should be taken seriously, and, I believe, is a vile form of self-expression.’
      • ‘No one is laughing, Bertie, because driving at 95 mph is no joke.’
      • ‘The parents exchanged glances; this was no joke.’
      • ‘Driving round York, particularly at rush hour, is no joke.’
      • ‘Her father's life was at stake, and that was no joke.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I was chased for 16 miles yesterday and it was no joke, I can tell you.’’
      • ‘But denominational discrimination was no joke in those days.’
      • ‘We were really shocked when we found out that it was no joke.’
      • ‘I was reprimanded as she told me this was no joke.’
      • ‘Having our principal industry in decline is no joke.’
  • can (or can't) take a joke

    • Be able (or unable) to receive humorous remarks or tricks in the spirit in which they are intended.

      ‘if you can't take a joke, you should never have joined’
      • ‘I should have added that they can't take a joke either.’
      • ‘It is advisable to make sure you select a boss who can take a joke.’
      • ‘I love a girl who can take a joke, who's ready for anything.’
      • ‘I thought he'd be a little stung by that, but the guy can take a joke.’
      • ‘The British like to imagine that they are easy-going and can take a joke while not taking matters too seriously.’
  • the joke is on someone

    • informal Someone looks foolish, especially after trying to make someone else look so.

      • ‘But I'm betting that the Butler has more to do with the outcome of the show than we think, and that the joke is on Joe.’
      • ‘It would seem that the joke is on someone, but who?’
      • ‘He knows when to tease and always understands when the joke is on him.’
      • ‘Everyone laughs, though we're unsure if the joke is on us.’
      • ‘On the other hand, perhaps the joke is on me for even considering this nonsense seriously.’
      • ‘But the joke is on you because I have backup right up stairs.’
      • ‘Or would you start to suspect that the joke is on you?’
      • ‘When it is clear how ridiculous and ludicrous our situation is, the joke is on us.’
      • ‘They don't seem to realise that the joke is on them.’
      • ‘All I can say to those five friends who started it all is, thanks lads and the joke is on you.’
  • make a joke of

    • Laugh or be humorous about (something that is not funny in itself)

      • ‘I made a joke of it, but it really was beginning to concern me.’
      • ‘But the woman brushed him off, making a joke of his request.’
      • ‘I tried to make a joke of it, but my laugh was fake, a desperate tint to it, well the whole thing seemed desperate actually.’
      • ‘I had to make a joke of it at the time but I was so angry and hurt.’
      • ‘He helped her into the sleeping bag and tried to make a joke of the incident, ‘Do you want me to make a coat out of that bear?’’
      • ‘Jake's eyes glimmered mischievously and I knew that he was just making a joke of the situation.’
      • ‘Now, if they'd played it properly, they'd have made a joke of it.’
      • ‘Lying, or even making a joke of it, would be far more effective.’
      • ‘I told him I was kidding and made a joke of it, but he seemed a little wounded.’
      • ‘Even making a joke of it initially may break the ice and make you come across somewhat less adversarial.’


Late 17th century (originally slang): perhaps from Latin jocus jest, wordplay.