Words With Remarkable Origins, Vol. 1

Goto next slide#9: Slapstick

Why are physical comedies often described as "slapstick"?

Because actual "slapsticks" – sticks used for slapping – were used by the comedians of 16th century Italy.

From the definition of slapstick in Merriam-Webster's Unabridged dictionary:

  1. a device consisting of two flat pieces of wood fastened together at one end but loose at the other and sometimes used by an actor in farce to make a loud noise in simulation of a severe blow

  2. comedy that depends for its effect on fast, boisterous, and zany physical activity and horseplay (as the throwing of pies, the whacking of posteriors with a slapstick, chases, mugging)

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