dead·pan | \ˈded-ˌpan \

Definition of deadpan 

(Entry 1 of 4)

: marked by an impassive matter-of-fact manner, style, or expression a deadpan comedy



Definition of deadpan (Entry 2 of 4)

: 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



Definition of deadpan (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a deadpan manner of behavior or presentation

2 : a completely expressionless face



Definition of deadpan (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to express in a deadpan manner

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Other Words from deadpan


deadpanner noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for deadpan

Synonyms: Adjective

blank, catatonic, empty, expressionless, impassive, inexpressive, numb, stolid, vacant

Antonyms: Adjective

demonstrative, expressive

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Examples of deadpan in a Sentence


he delivered the joke in such a deadpan voice that we thought at first that he was serious


He tells the joke in his best deadpan. She's a master of deadpan.


“I went back to doing push-ups again, and this time I almost completed one,” he deadpanned.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Just as good is Park, who steals his scenes with a quieter deadpan. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, "Review: 'Ant-Man' sequel is a less-is-more triumph," 5 July 2018 Xavier DeGuzman plays Berto, Eddie's tech-savy right hand, while Alice Lee's Monica, Sam's ultra-deadpan assistant, has tech actually in her hands. Robert Lloyd,, "Is ‘Take Two’ just ‘Castle’ redux, or modern-day Nick and Nora Charles fun?," 21 June 2018 Bullwinkel’s style shifts from story to story, occasionally antic but more often than not hilariously deadpan. Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle, "Science fiction and fantasy books: ‘Belly Up,’ ‘What Should Be Wild,’ ‘84K’," 7 June 2018 The overall tone of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is wackier and less deadpan than the first version. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Amazon’s Rocky and Bullwinkle brings back an old favorite… but why?," 11 May 2018 It's set apart mainly by the conviction in Sanford's unique and deadpan baritone voice. Luca Cimarusti, Chicago Reader, "Adam Luksetich of Foul Tip on his contrarian pick for best country album ever," 20 Mar. 2018 But live, Jukebox couldn’t match up the energy of the album live, and cutesy deadpan banter about getting a song placed on Rob Schneider’s Netflix show became less a distinguishing trait than the only reason worth sticking around. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 9: Janelle Monáe, Flaming Lips, BØRNS, Judah & the Lion and more," 7 July 2018 Known for her deadpan delivery, Curtin was the perfect foil to the guests and cohosts' antics. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "16 Times Women Changed the Game on Saturday Night Live," 27 June 2018 Both actors are at peak form here, with Coogan clearly having a blast as the flamboyant Erasmus and Rudd employing his expert deadpan delivery and gift for comic timing as the slow-burning Paul. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ideal Home': Film Review," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mostly, Will gets to work, or rather Mr. Johnson does, as the character undergoes the hero’s crucible of suffering with throbbing muscles, an impressive deadpan and yards of duct tape. New York Times, "Review: In ‘Skyscraper,’ Dwayne Johnson Scales a Tower of Clichés," 11 July 2018 Assuming a creepy deadpan, Stewart proves even more effective as the swine Squealer, the crafty, villainous chief propagandist of the human-free farm. Tim Smith,, "Orwell's 'Animal Farm' stings at Center Stage," 13 Mar. 2018 According to a former administration official, in private conversations with aides and friends, Tillerson refers to Trump, in his Texas deadpan, as the dealmaker in chief. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department," 17 Oct. 2017 Jim Gaffigan, one of the premiere joke tellers today, hardly ever laughs in his delivery, maintaining an amiable deadpan. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Why Do Comics Laugh at Their Own Jokes? It’s No Accident," 3 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Grant deadpans of the annual invitation for a Love Actually reunion. Julie Miller, HWD, "Love Actually Stars Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, and More Offer Clues About the Sequel," 17 Mar. 2017 Grant deadpans of the annual invitation for a Love Actually reunion., "Love Actually Stars Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, and More Offer Clues About the Sequel," 17 Mar. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of deadpan


circa 1928, in the meaning defined above


1933, in the meaning defined above


circa 1930, in the meaning defined at sense 2


circa 1942, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for deadpan

Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for deadpan

The first known use of deadpan was circa 1928

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More Definitions for deadpan



English Language Learners Definition of deadpan

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: showing no feeling or emotion



English Language Learners Definition of deadpan (Entry 2 of 3)

: a way of saying funny things without showing any feeling or emotion



English Language Learners Definition of deadpan (Entry 3 of 3)

: to say (something funny) in a way that shows no feeling or emotion

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