gallows humor


Definition of 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 Her poetry can be stark in its sorrow and startling in its horror, but it is enlivened with gallows humor and a surreal sensibility. The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 30 Nov. 2020 As women regaled the table with one gruesome story after another, gleefully besting one another’s floridly crappy experiences, they were shocked by the relentlessness of it all, and by the gallows humor and resignation in the women’s response. New York Times, "Emerald Fennell’s Dark, Jaded, Funny, Furious Fables of Female Revenge," 17 Dec. 2020 At the Monday board meeting, Moore employed gallows humor when reflecting on TEA’s report. Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, "Concerns of racist remarks, bribery, intimidation, toxic climate prompt a likely state takeover at Kemp ISD," 15 Dec. 2020 Others, however, have defended Placzek’s text as gallows humor and a possible symptom of mental health issues in the department after Hartford experienced a particularly bloody year for gun violence. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Protesters say ‘dead pool’ bet is more proof of a rotten police department, not just one bad apple," 12 Dec. 2020 Julia Davis—the evil genius behind the masterpiece of gallows humor that is Nighty Night—and fellow comedy actor Vicki Pepperdine, the pair adopts the guise of radio agony aunts, cooing over their listener’s problems with a cloying faux sincerity. Emma Specter, Vogue, "The 7 Podcasts That Got Us Through 2020," 11 Dec. 2020 It’s somewhere between idle escapism and gallows humor. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "‘No Thoughts Head Empty’ Is 2020’s Most Enduring Meme," 24 Nov. 2020 For anyone who needs it, then, there exists within Glück’s work a glossary of today’s moods: rage, vulnerability, despair, gallows humor, irritation, loneliness, an aura of intensity around the mundane. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "Louise Glück, Whisperer of the Seasons," 15 Oct. 2020 Janesville resident Hank Brill came in on cue with a dose of gallows humor. Neil Johnson, Star Tribune, "Lawn chair clubs combine social time and social distancing," 5 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gallows humor.' 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 gallows humor

1901, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for gallows humor

Time Traveler

The first known use of gallows humor was in 1901

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Statistics for gallows humor

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gallows humor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for gallows humor

gallows humor


English Language Learners Definition of gallows humor

: humor that relates to very serious or frightening things (such as death and illness)

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