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.’
    • ‘Bill Cosby may have gained his fame and fortune telling jokes and funny stories.’
    • ‘You're always the one cracking up the group with your jokes and stories.’
    • ‘She cracked funny jokes with a dry sense of humor at the perfect times.’
    • ‘The joke may be funny, but all jokes have a shelf life.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their long stories were often entertaining, and many of their jokes were funny.’
    • ‘One of them was also cracking a joke or telling a story.’
    • ‘We're looking for jokes, gags, funny stories, pictures, whatever, but they must be your original work.’
    • ‘She's this gangly Asian lady who cracks lots of jokes which are actually funny.’
    • ‘Failure to understand a joke is often funnier than the original joke.’
    • ‘First, amateur comedians notoriously overestimate how funny their jokes are.’
    • ‘There are some good jokes and the simple story is fair enough as it is.’
    • ‘Watch one funny movie, or read a funny story, or tell your friends three funny jokes, every single day.’
    • ‘Someone cracked a joke and the ensuing laughter jerked him out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality.’
    • ‘He laughed at what he thought was a funny joke - his funny joke.’
    • ‘The timing of the jokes, including the funny ones, is way off.’
    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.’
      • ‘Jay knew she wasn't invited, and this was all a big joke… a trick!’
      • ‘Malicia used to make me laugh when she told me of the harmless jokes and pranks she played earlier that day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And even if this is all a big hoax or joke and you don't end up playing for Houston, I still hate you.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Not to mention, my parents are going to think it's some joke or prank or something to get back at them.’
      • ‘‘Surely this was all some kind of joke, a stunt’.’
      • ‘I can't accept anything without thinking that it must be some kind of joke or trick, or have some ulterior motive.’
      • ‘It almost seemed like a joke, a harmless prank one of his friends had pulled on him.’
      • ‘She enjoys working with directors who make her laugh, and her sense of humour involves ludicrous situations rather than jokes or pranks.’
      • ‘I doubt he was trying to trick me or play some inside joke.’
      • ‘It's a prank by an employee or a feeble joke by the management.’
      • ‘Muldowney told police at the time it had been a joke or prank but now realised just how serious it had been.’
      • ‘I think it was a school joke or a prank to make you think that there is someone that knows who you truly are.’
      • ‘It is thought that the hoax may have begun as a joke, but it got out of hand.’
      • ‘Either way, the point was, it was all a trick, a joke, a scam - whatever you wanted to call it.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘They are at the stage where they are beyond a joke and are becoming dangerous to drive on.’
      • ‘The Richmond High School basketball team is a joke.’
      • ‘One student told Cherwell that the current mail system was ‘a joke.’’
      • ‘The NHS and education systems are a disgraceful shambles and the illegal asylum situation is not only a joke, it is dangerous.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Taiwan's beaches are a joke and its reef systems are already threatened by even the current low levels of tourism.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some consider the system to be a joke.’
      • ‘What a ridiculous joke - but it illustrates how far some will go to rationalize their behavior.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘And even then, you shouldn't joke about them because you don't understand.’
    • ‘In my discussions with Billy, we joked a lot about the incident among other things.’
    • ‘He also took time out to joke with reporters and photographers.’
    • ‘We all climbed down the steps leading to the club underground, laughing and joking the whole way.’
    • ‘We'd joke a little, but mostly we were just taking care of business.’
    • ‘We all joke that none of us are either rich or famous.’
    • ‘Gracien laughed and joked a lot, Eva was smiling and quiet, and Rosie was funny in a sarcastic manner.’
    • ‘We can joke about it but this is a serious problem.’
    • ‘They joke about the hotly-disputed incident every time they meet.’
    • ‘I joke about the stalking stuff on the other blog.’
    • ‘You joke a lot in interviews about how you wanted to write horror because you experienced so much of it in high school.’
    • ‘You know, you joke about things like hoping you aren't last.’
    • ‘This is one thing because people joke about it all the time.’
    • ‘Who's your favorite celebrity to joke about and why?’
    • ‘He would be laughing and joking one moment and then totally different the next.’
    • ‘The commentators joke with each other in the easy manner that comes with long hours spent together.’
    • ‘We can joke about our differences, because they're obvious and expected.’
    • ‘I joke with strangers and they generally react well.’
    • ‘Her friend warns her not to joke about such things.’
    • ‘People ask me that all the time and they joke with me.’
    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’
      • ‘To me that is no joke, should be taken seriously, and, I believe, is a vile form of self-expression.’
      • ‘Her father's life was at stake, and that was no joke.’
      • ‘But denominational discrimination was no joke in those days.’
      • ‘Driving round York, particularly at rush hour, is no joke.’
      • ‘Having our principal industry in decline is 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.’
      • ‘The parents exchanged glances; this was no joke.’
      • ‘We were really shocked when we found out that it was no joke.’
      • ‘I was reprimanded as she told me this was 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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The British like to imagine that they are easy-going and can take a joke while not taking matters too seriously.’
  • make a joke of

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

      • ‘I had to make a joke of it at the time but I was so angry and hurt.’
      • ‘Jake's eyes glimmered mischievously and I knew that he was just making a joke of the situation.’
      • ‘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?’’
      • ‘Even making a joke of it initially may break the ice and make you come across somewhat less adversarial.’
      • ‘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 told him I was kidding and made a joke of it, but he seemed a little wounded.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.’
      • ‘They don't seem to realise that the joke is on them.’
      • ‘Everyone laughs, though we're unsure if the joke is on us.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When it is clear how ridiculous and ludicrous our situation is, the joke is on us.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘On the other hand, perhaps the joke is on me for even considering this nonsense seriously.’
      • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

joke

/jōk//dʒoʊk/