dead·​pan | \ ˈded-ˌpan How to pronounce deadpan (audio) \

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

Laura Ingalls Wilder often used descriptions of meals in the midst of her generally deadpan, prosaic descriptions of a frontier childhood to spark memories and evoke the often stoic characters’ moods. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The delectable possibility and bland reality of Sweetbitter," 25 May 2018 Though McCarthy’s deadpan expression revealed little, his work speaks volumes about his capacity to toil, his determination, and also his wiliness. Vogue, "Fairchild Chairman and Editor Patrick McCarthy Is Dead at 67," 26 Feb. 2019 As funny as Preston is, the best comedic foil to his antics are the cats themselves, who deadpan stare at him like pros. Diana Bruk, Country Living, "This Animal Shelter's Hilarious Cat Commercial Is Going Viral," 6 Jan. 2017 The easygoing comic actor snags laughs by his lonesome, simply by providing deadpan reactions and blithe non sequiturs while others strain for effect. Michael Phillips,, "'Tag' review: Don't these guys have anything else to do?," 14 June 2018 The half-hour comedy looks to preserve the same deadpan humor and worldweary tone that made the original film an instant cult classic. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Vampires navigate NYC in first teasers for What We Do in the Shadows," 1 Nov. 2018 His bravado and ineptitude as a killer fit in nicely with the two girls' dead-on and deadpan performances. Michael Heaton,, "'Thoroughbreds' is a hard-charging dark comedy (review)," 3 Jan. 2018 Hunt puts together a mission to buy the plutonium before The Apostles can get their hands on it, enlisting his usual cohorts: Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, still the master of deadpan reactions) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "In Mission: Impossible - Fallout, being the good guy has serious consequences," 27 July 2018 Everything around the titular character worked for me, most of all Darlene, played with great deadpan by executive producer Sara Gilbert. Matthew Gilbert,, "Do we really need to stay in touch with ‘The Conners’ after Roseanne?," 22 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

16 May 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on deadpan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deadpan

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deadpan

Spanish Central: Translation of deadpan

Nglish: Translation of deadpan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deadpan for Arabic Speakers

Comments on deadpan

What made you want to look up deadpan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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