Definition of joke in US English:

joke

noun

  • 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 jokes are not as funny; the stories not as entertaining; the scripts a bit stale.’
    • ‘If a speaker does use humor in a speech, make certain the story, anecdote or joke is surefire funny with all listeners.’
    • ‘He tells the funniest jokes and stories and he ends up dominating every conversation.’
    • ‘Bill Cosby may have gained his fame and fortune telling jokes and funny stories.’
    • ‘The joke may be funny, but all jokes have a shelf life.’
    • ‘We're looking for jokes, gags, funny stories, pictures, whatever, but they must be your original work.’
    • ‘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 always had a great sense of humour and even during his illness he could still tell a joke or funny story.’
    • ‘Someone cracked a joke and the ensuing laughter jerked him out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality.’
    • ‘She's this gangly Asian lady who cracks lots of jokes which are actually funny.’
    • ‘One of them was also cracking a joke or telling a story.’
    • ‘Watch one funny movie, or read a funny story, or tell your friends three funny jokes, every single day.’
    • ‘She cracked funny jokes with a dry sense of humor at the perfect times.’
    • ‘First, amateur comedians notoriously overestimate how funny their jokes are.’
    • ‘Failure to understand a joke is often funnier than the original joke.’
    • ‘Their long stories were often entertaining, and many of their jokes were funny.’
    • ‘The timing of the jokes, including the funny ones, is way off.’
    • ‘He laughed at what he thought was a funny joke - his funny joke.’
    • ‘You're always the one cracking up the group with your jokes and stories.’
    funny story, jest, witticism, quip, pleasantry
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A trick played on someone for fun.
      • ‘I knew none of those people had pulled that stunt last night as a joke.’
      • ‘‘Surely this was all some kind of joke, a stunt’.’
      • ‘I think it was a school joke or a prank to make you think that there is someone that knows who you truly are.’
      • ‘I doubt he was trying to trick me or play some inside joke.’
      • ‘Jay knew she wasn't invited, and this was all a big joke… a trick!’
      • ‘It is thought that the hoax may have begun as a joke, but it got out of hand.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Malicia used to make me laugh when she told me of the harmless jokes and pranks she played earlier that day.’
      • ‘And even if this is all a big hoax or joke and you don't end up playing for Houston, I still hate you.’
      • ‘Muldowney told police at the time it had been a joke or prank but now realised just how serious it had been.’
      • ‘It almost seemed like a joke, a harmless prank one of his friends had pulled on him.’
      • ‘As you probably guessed, this list was a joke / hoax.’
      • ‘To them it was a joke, some prank and they treated it like a day off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Either way, the point was, it was all a trick, a joke, a scam - whatever you wanted to call it.’
      • ‘I can't accept anything without thinking that it must be some kind of joke or trick, or have some ulterior motive.’
      • ‘What once looked like a funny stunt now could quite easily be perceived as a cruel joke on a sick senior.’
      • ‘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.’
      trick, practical joke, prank, stunt, hoax, jape
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal in singular A person or thing that is ridiculously inadequate.
      ‘the transportation system is a joke’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are at the stage where they are beyond a joke and are becoming dangerous to drive on.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some consider the system to be a joke.’
      • ‘The Richmond High School basketball team is a joke.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Taiwan's beaches are a joke and its reef systems are already threatened by even the current low levels of tourism.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      laughing stock, figure of fun, source of amusement, object of ridicule
      farce, travesty, waste of time
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verb

[no object]
  • 1Make 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is one thing because people joke about it all the time.’
    • ‘Gracien laughed and joked a lot, Eva was smiling and quiet, and Rosie was funny in a sarcastic manner.’
    • ‘We all climbed down the steps leading to the club underground, laughing and joking the whole way.’
    • ‘And even then, you shouldn't joke about them because you don't understand.’
    • ‘Who's your favorite celebrity to joke about and why?’
    • ‘The commentators joke with each other in the easy manner that comes with long hours spent together.’
    • ‘I joke with strangers and they generally react well.’
    • ‘We all joke that none of us are either rich or famous.’
    • ‘We can joke about it but this is a serious problem.’
    • ‘He also took time out to joke with reporters and photographers.’
    • ‘He would be laughing and joking one moment and then totally different the next.’
    • ‘We can joke about our differences, because they're obvious and expected.’
    • ‘People ask me that all the time and they joke with me.’
    • ‘You know, you joke about things like hoping you aren't last.’
    • ‘I joke about the stalking stuff on the other blog.’
    • ‘Her friend warns her not to joke about such things.’
    • ‘We'd joke a little, but mostly we were just taking care of business.’
    tell jokes, crack jokes
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic with object Poke fun at.
      ‘he was pretending to joke his daughter’

Phrases

  • be no joke

    • informal Be a serious matter or difficult undertaking.

      ‘trying to shop with three children in tow is no joke’
      • ‘Driving round York, particularly at rush hour, is no joke.’
      • ‘We were really shocked when we found out that it was no joke.’
      • ‘The parents exchanged glances; this was no joke.’
      • ‘I was reprimanded as she told me this was no joke.’
      • ‘But denominational discrimination was no joke in those days.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘No one is laughing, Bertie, because driving at 95 mph is no joke.’
      • ‘To me that is no joke, should be taken seriously, and, I believe, is a vile form of self-expression.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘The British like to imagine that they are easy-going and can take a joke while not taking matters too seriously.’
      • ‘I love a girl who can take a joke, who's ready for anything.’
      • ‘It is advisable to make sure you select a boss who can take a joke.’
      • ‘I should have added that they can't take a joke either.’
      • ‘I thought he'd be a little stung by that, but the guy can take a joke.’
  • make a joke of

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

      • ‘But the woman brushed him off, making a joke of his request.’
      • ‘I told him I was kidding and made a joke of it, but he seemed a little wounded.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lying, or even making a joke of it, would be far more effective.’
      • ‘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?’’
      • ‘Now, if they'd played it properly, they'd have made a joke of it.’
      • ‘I had to make a joke of it at the time but I was so angry and hurt.’
      • ‘Even making a joke of it initially may break the ice and make you come across somewhat less adversarial.’
      • ‘Jake's eyes glimmered mischievously and I knew that he was just making a joke of the situation.’
      • ‘I made a joke of it, but it really was beginning to concern me.’
      ridicule, make fun of, poke fun at, laugh at, make a joke of, mock, sneer at, jibe at, jeer at, deride, scorn, scoff at
      View synonyms
  • the joke is on someone

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

      • ‘All I can say to those five friends who started it all is, thanks lads and the joke is on you.’
      • ‘When it is clear how ridiculous and ludicrous our situation is, the joke is on us.’
      • ‘It would seem that the joke is on someone, but who?’
      • ‘But the joke is on you because I have backup right up stairs.’
      • ‘On the other hand, perhaps the joke is on me for even considering this nonsense seriously.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They don't seem to realise that the joke is on them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Or would you start to suspect that the joke is on you?’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

joke

/dʒoʊk//jōk/