Definition of tongue-in-cheek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: characterized by insincerity, irony, or whimsical exaggeration

tongue in cheek


Definition of tongue in cheek (Entry 2 of 2)

: with insincerity, irony, or whimsical exaggeration

Examples of tongue-in-cheek in a Sentence

Adverb The whole interview was done tongue in cheek.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And, this is a little tongue in cheek—but also not really—because the solutions that people are proposing for robots causing harm are getting a little bit too close to assigning too much agency to the robots. Matt Simon, Wired, "Want to Get Along With Robots? Pretend They’re Animals," 19 Apr. 2021 With tongue in cheek, Boudreaux began calling herself the Admiral of the house float fleet. Doug Maccash,, "Looking for Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans and beyond? See official map with 3,000 locations," 1 Feb. 2021 Although Shatner’s argument is tongue in cheek, there’s actually a more practical reason why the Space Force might emulate the U.S. Navy—not the U.S. Air Force. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "William Shatner to Space Force: Use Navy, Not Air Force Ranks," 28 Aug. 2020 Although Buck’s performance was relatively tongue in cheek, the event represented his first announcing gig in months. Gregory Leporati, Washington Post, "For veteran broadcasters, esports is a whole new ballgame," 8 May 2020 Stuller said the signs were meant to be tongue in cheek, while conveying her serious sense of frustration with traffic congestion, rising property values and high water rates. Gilbert Garcia,, "County Commissioner hopeful is ‘nucking’ on victory’s door," 26 Feb. 2020 The host’s jabs, though often bawdy, were usually delivered with enough tongue in cheek to keep high-profile guests comfortable. Marc Fisher, Washington Post, "Don Imus, talk-show host who turned bad behavior into big ratings, dies at 79," 27 Dec. 2019 Travel photos can also be tongue in cheek, Mr. Wyzard said. New York Times, "How to Make Your Travel Clothes Pop on Instagram," 29 Oct. 2019 When Chris Larson and Kriss Zulkosky say St. Paul’s East Side has all the key ingredients to be the next epicenter of the city’s arts scene, the husband-and-wife arts patrons aren’t exactly being tongue in cheek. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Husband-and-wife studio owners call St. Paul’s Payne Avenue, East Side the next arts hub," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tongue-in-cheek.' 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 tongue-in-cheek


1899, in the meaning defined above


1856, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for tongue-in-cheek

Time Traveler

The first known use of tongue-in-cheek was in 1856

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Cite this Entry

“Tongue-in-cheek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for tongue-in-cheek

tongue in cheek


English Language Learners Definition of tongue in cheek

: in a way that is not serious and that is meant to be funny

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