Fun with Words

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Here is a collection of over 2,500 English words and phrases in humorous context—a veritable dictionary—including, mock antonyms, collective nouns, hyp-hens, bundel words and much more.  This is a must-visit site for comedians, speech writers, punsters, toastmasters, English teachers, and all students of language.

If you think about it, “understand” is a funny word.  Unlike “underarm” or “undercook” it does not make a lot of sense.  You have to wonder what standing has to do with comprehension.  And why under?  More curious is trying to figure out the opposite of understand.  Is it underlie, overstand, or overlie?  Or maybe it’s ununderstand, or just plain derstand.

There are lots of funny words in English, like “partake” which looks like it has something to do with golf, or “bigamist” which suggests a person with a sizeable problem, or “cockpit” which just begs to be fooled with.  The word “improper” is funny if you split the word after the first p (imagine someone who lassoes little demons.)

If you would like to see some examples of the word humor found in these pages 

But making fun of a word often requires that we ignore the word’s etymology—otherwise the amusement might be lost to reason.  For example, the word “surgery” begs the question “what surges?”  In fact, the word evolved from an old French word surigien with roots in old English as chirurgeon which came from the Greek cheirourgos (cheir, hand + ergon, work.)  That history may be interesting, but not very funny.

Why don't we put pants in the pantry? An amusing question—but not if you are aware that the origin of the word “pantry” is from the Middle English panetrie meaning “bread room” borrowed from the Old French paneterie the root of which comes from the Latin word for bread, panis.  Meanwhile the origin of “pants” is from Pantaleon, the name of a 4th-century saint who was favored by Venetians who, consequently, became known as Pantaloni.  In the 17th century, the French used the word pantalon to refer a particular style of tights resembling that worn by an old Venetian in an Italian play.  The word for tight fitting trousers came to the English as “pantaloons” and by 1850 was shortened to “pants.”

To be amused by the absurd looking word “unless” you must forget, or be unaware, that it comes from the phrase “upon less” and that it has nothing to do with the prefix “un.”  In general, to be tickled by odd looking words you must ignore the tug of times and tongues on their meanings.  That is why there is no consideration of word etymologies in this Fun with Words.

All the words being poked fun at here are real dictionary words.  There are no made-up or misspelled words like punderful or punnishing.  You won’t find here, for example, a warped definition for “impasse” as a demon’s butt because it would have to be spelled impass, or a mock antonym for “stagnation” as “donation” because it would have to be doenation.  When made-up words do appear in this compilation to show the humor of an actual word (such as beforemath, the Phantom Antonym of “aftermath”), they appear in italics.

This collection also does not deal with verbal play on words like “the peepholes choice,” nor does it toy with nearly similar sounding words like “salary” and “celery,” or substituted homonyms like “cache” for “cash.”  All these kinds of playful oral twists may be entertaining but their number is astronomical.  However, the words that do appear in these pages should be enough to tickle your humorous humerus.

Listed below are all the categories of word humor contained at this site, each with a brief explanation. The list is provided as a side menu on each page of Fun with Words.  Placing the mouse cursor over any of the side menu items will display an example of the word humor found on that page.

  Wonder Words  Words that make you wonder about their meaning.   —  Ask Your Doctor  Medical jargon that doesn’t make sense.   —  Wonder Phrases  Phrases that make you wonder about their meaning.   —  Fighting Words  Words of war.   —  What Do You Call...  Poking fun at occupations.   —  Say Again  Words that may suggest different meanings if pronounced incorrectly.   —  Loose Language  Poking fun at literary jargon.   —  Ghost Words  Words that suggest other words that should exist but don’t.   —  Collective Nouns  Taking the pun approach to what you call groups of things.   —  De-tours  Fun with words that begin with “de.”   —  Dis-connections  Fun with words that begin with “dis.”   —  Re-collections  Fun with words that begin with “re.”   —  Er-rant Words  Fun with words that begin with “er.”   —  Sport Orts  A humorous look at sports jargon.   —  Demeaned Words  Words that look like they might have some other meaning.   —  Curious Words  Like Wonder Words, these words make you think.   —  Un-real Meanings  Fun with words that begin with “un.”   —  Imps and Ages  Bundle Words that end with the syllables “imp” and “age.”   —  Oxymoron List  The best list of oxymora (oxymorons) anywhere on the Internet.   —  Antioxymoron List  The best list of antioxymora (antioxymorons) anywhere.   —  Punishing Adjectives  Adjectives that put a pun to work.   —  Tom Swiftlies  “Punning quotations,” Tom cited.   —  Daffynitions  Funny definitions for not so funny words.   —  Fractured Definitions  Sentences showing ambiguous word meanings.   —  Hyp-hens  Sentences take on new meanings when words are hyphenated incorrectly.   —  Bundle Words  Words that can be broken apart into other words, with some humor.   —  Bundle Words Aloud  Bundle Words that get their humor when pronounced differently.   —  Mock Antonyms  Pairs of words that look like antonyms but are not.   —  Negafixes  Fun words you get when you lop off the negating prefixes   —  Phantom Antonyms  Words that suggest antonyms that aren’t in the dictionary.   —  Antagonyms  Words that have two opposing definitions.   —  Contraps  Word opposite in meaning working together in a sentence.   —  Prime Rhymes  Phrases with rhyming words with rhymed meanings.   —  Dittograms  Sentences containing consecutive homonyms or homonymic phrases   —  Job Jokes  Getting a laugh out of job titles.   —  Butterflies  Word and word phrases looked at differently.   —  Thingamagigs  Things get funny names.

If you are looking for a particular word, check the Index of Words.

And if you don’t find the word you want in the index, try Any Word Is Funny