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  1. something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement, as a witticism, a short and amusing anecdote, or a prankish act: He tells very funny jokes. She played a joke on him.
  2. something that is amusing or ridiculous, especially because of being ludicrously inadequate or a sham; a thing, situation, or person laughed at rather than taken seriously; farce: Their pretense of generosity is a joke. An officer with no ability to command is a joke.
  3. a matter that need not be taken very seriously; trifling matter: The loss was no joke.
  4. something that does not present the expected challenge; something very easy: The test was a joke for the whole class.
  5. practical joke.
verb (used without object), joked, jok·ing.
  1. to speak or act in a playful or merry way: He was always joking with us.
  2. to say something in fun or teasing rather than in earnest; be facetious: He didn't really mean it, he was only joking.
verb (used with object), joked, jok·ing.
  1. to subject to jokes; make fun of; tease.
  2. to obtain by joking: The comedian joked coins from the audience.

Origin of joke

First recorded in 1660–70, joke is from the Latin word jocus jest
Related formsjoke·less, adjectivejok·ing·ly, adverbhalf-jok·ing, adjectivehalf-jok·ing·ly, adverbun·jok·ing, adjectiveun·jok·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for joke

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1. wisecrack, gag, jape, prank, quip, quirk, sally, raillery. Joke, jest refer to something said (or done) in sport, or to cause amusement. A joke is something said or done for the sake of exciting laughter; it may be raillery, a witty remark, or a prank or trick: to tell a joke. Jest, today a more formal word, nearly always refers to joking language and is more suggestive of scoffing or ridicule than is joke : to speak in jest. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of joke

British Dictionary definitions for joke


  1. a humorous anecdote
  2. something that is said or done for fun; prank
  3. a ridiculous or humorous circumstance
  4. a person or thing inspiring ridicule or amusement; butt
  5. a matter to be joked about or ignored
  6. joking apart seriously: said to recall a discussion to seriousness after there has been joking
  7. no joke something very serious
  1. (intr) to tell jokes
  2. (intr) to speak or act facetiously or in fun
  3. to make fun of (someone); tease; kid
Derived Formsjokingly, adverb

Word Origin for joke

C17: from Latin jocus a jest
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for joke

1660s, joque, "a jest, something done to excite laughter," from Latin iocus "joke, sport, pastime," from PIE root *yek- "to speak" (cf. Breton iez "language," Old High German jehan "to say," German Beichte "confession").

Originally a colloquial or slang word. Meaning "something not to be taken seriously" is 1791. Practical joke "trick played on someone for the sake of a laugh at his expense" is from 1804 (earlier handicraft joke, 1741). Black joke is old slang for "smutty song" (1730s), from use of that phrase in the refrain of a then-popular song as a euphemism for "the monosyllable."


1660s, "to make a joke," from Latin iocari "to jest, joke," from iocus (see joke (n.)). Related: Joked; joking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with joke


see crack a joke; dirty joke; no joke; sick joke; standing joke; take a joke.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.