deadpan

1 of 4

adjective

dead·​pan ˈded-ˌpan How to pronounce deadpan (audio)
: marked by an impassive matter-of-fact manner, style, or expression
a deadpan comedy

deadpan

2 of 4

adverb

: in a deadpan manner : without emotion : blankly
Larry David started out in the 1970s doing stand-up in comedy clubs such as Catch a Rising Star, where if he came out on stage and did not like the audience he would stare at them deadpan … and walk off. Lee Siegel
"A sex and violence weekend?" "That's two weekend ideas, actually," Derbin replies deadpan. Judith Miller

deadpan

3 of 4

noun

1
: a deadpan manner of behavior or presentation
2
: a completely expressionless face

deadpan

4 of 4

verb

deadpanned; deadpanning; deadpans

transitive verb

: to express in a deadpan manner
deadpanner noun

Example Sentences

Adjective he delivered the joke in such a deadpan voice that we thought at first that he was serious Noun He tells the joke in his best deadpan. She's a master of deadpan. Verb “I went back to doing push-ups again, and this time I almost completed one,” he deadpanned.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Stallone provides just the right amount of world-weary gravitas and deadpan humor to put over the hokey material. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Aug. 2022 But Relisha Rudd Day is about much more than the 8-year-old whose photos — both the ones of her smiling and the one of her deadpan stare — haunted D.C. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 At the Dumbo gallery Higher Pictures Generation, an exhibition of six of these images, made between 2015 and 2021, shows that the pair has found a winning balance between deadpan absurdism and formal acuity. Johanna Fateman, The New Yorker, 3 Nov. 2022 Braunger has an intense sarcastic delivery that builds up an impressive amount of deadpan comic energy. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, 27 Oct. 2022 Then a very Mike White sigh and a deadpan line about saving a few bucks on the production. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 27 Oct. 2022 Derek Forbort, he of the perpetual five-day beard and forever deadpan expression, was perfectly cast as Princess Peach. Steve Conroy, Hartford Courant, 24 Oct. 2022 Other standouts among a very solid cast include Plaza, who deploys her signature deadpan delivery to hilariously uncomfortable effect as a woman whose harsh judgments barely conceal her own insecurities. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Oct. 2022 Östlund makes deadpan comedies about the European élite. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2022
Noun
And then there’s larcenous Aunt Debra, played with deader-than-deadpan humor by a hilarious Bonnie Milligan, who would, ahem, steal the show if it were not written with such exquisite balance. Charles Isherwood, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 Posing in front of a wooden wall and studio equipment, the photo saw Dre grinning ear-to-ear in an all-black outfit next to a deadpan-appearing Eminem sporting a gray hoodie, black baseball cap, graphic tee and black jeans. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 3 Oct. 2022 In typical Patton Oswalt deadpan, the actor and comedian kicks off his newest and just-released Netflix standup comedy special with some borderline dad humor about breaking his foot earlier this year. Andy Meek, BGR, 20 Sep. 2022 The Wednesday clip opens with Jenny Ortega as our favorite deadpan goth, who drops two large bags of hungry piranhas on the school swim team for teasing her brother, Pugsley. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, 17 Aug. 2022 These drawings were masterpieces of American deadpan, at once hilarious in their solemnity and blessedly free—quick-witted in their design and in their parody of heroic architectural renderings. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 21 July 2022 Posing in front of a wooden wall and studio equipment, the photo sees Dre, 57, grinning ear-to-ear in an all-black outfit next to a deadpan-appearing Eminem, 49, sporting a gray hoodie, black baseball cap, graphic tee and black jeans. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 16 Aug. 2022 Acquiring a taste for Wes Anderson's signature deadpan isn't easy. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 July 2022 For the most part, Gorr simply gives Thor another chance to play the hero, which Hemsworth does with a stellar deadpan and appreciable suppleness. New York Times, 7 July 2022
Verb
Audiences catch a glimpse of this version—the real Quinta—whenever Janine shoots the camera a fourth-wall-breaking, deadpan aside on Abbott’s mockumentary-style set. ELLE, 13 Apr. 2022 Would the British public, used to deadpan interviews or excessively comedic conversations, enjoy Oprah-style interviews? Ronke Lawal, Fortune, 1 Dec. 2021 Those comments were typically Tuukka: deadpan and dry. BostonGlobe.com, 11 June 2021 The prize, Brady deadpans, is two weeks in Dayton, Ohio, which the 51-year-old concedes sounds a little like a Vaudeville punchline. Nancy Shohet West, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Feb. 2020 Grant deadpans of the annual invitation for a Love Actually reunion. Julie Miller, HWD, 17 Mar. 2017 Grant deadpans of the annual invitation for a Love Actually reunion. vanityfair.com, 17 Mar. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deadpan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

circa 1928, in the meaning defined above

Adverb

1933, in the meaning defined above

Noun

circa 1930, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

circa 1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deadpan was circa 1928

Dictionary Entries Near deadpan

Cite this Entry

“Deadpan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deadpan. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

deadpan

noun

dead·​pan
ˈded-ˌpan
: a face that shows no emotion
deadpan adjective or adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on deadpan

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ