gallows humor


: humor that makes fun of a life-threatening, disastrous, or terrifying situation

Examples of gallows humor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Meng’s 2019 presentation made an attempt at gallows humor. H. Claire Brown, New York Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Murder, of course, is no laughing matter, but the gambit of director Thomas Tancred (and producers including mumblecore kings Jay and Mark Duplass) is to play the material for deadpan gallows humor. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 8 Oct. 2023 The concluding scene, drily indicating the cyclical nature of autocracies, particularly in Latin America, is a delicious smack of gallows humor that’s also chilling. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Aug. 2023 Some law enforcement officials defend gallows humor and profanity as a necessary, if unsavory, part of the job, while linguists and others who study policing say obscene language only escalates encounters and undermines public trust. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2023 The Master of Suspense was also a master of gallows humor, a filmmaker always quick to have fun with the darkest corners of the imagination. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 27 July 2023 Homicide detectives are repositories of gallows humor. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2023 The film has delighted the Chinese audience with its suspense, wordplay, gallows humor and rousing final act. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Mar. 2023 Following a brief portion of open practice in early November, Altman spoke to the modest crowd of fans at Matthew Knight Arena with a bit of gallows humor about the Ducks’ relative health at the time. oregonlive, 25 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gallows humor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1901, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gallows humor was in 1901

Dictionary Entries Near gallows humor

Cite this Entry

“Gallows humor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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