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 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 Scenes involving dismemberment have also been toned down, and gone are any explicit references to drugs (though some of the edits are definitely a bit tongue in cheek). Tracy Brown, The Seattle Times, "How ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ is different from ‘Deadpool 2,’ besides PG-13 rating," 12 Dec. 2018 Championship side Brentford have reacted in hilarious style to the harsh criticism their new away kit received from a fan on Twitter, sending the supporter a tongue in cheek letter along with some unusual special gifts., "Championship Side Brentford See the Funny Side of Fan's Kit Criticism With Hilarious Letter Response," 24 June 2018 Officers in Norwood, a town of 20,000 near Cincinnati, posted the advice, presumably tongue in cheek, on the Police Department's Facebook page. Marie Simoneaux,, "Police investigating shooting in the 7th Ward: NOPD," 10 Feb. 2018 Turbojugend, for example, have rules, many rules, most of which are tongue in cheek, and many of which concern the Kutte. Nancy Baym, WIRED, "Book Excerpt: How Music Fans Built the Internet," 10 July 2018 Costumes are theatrical, personalities are tongue in cheek — in no way does this event take itself too seriously. Beth Spotswood, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pro wrestling gets a hold in the city, San Francisco style," 5 June 2018 Boyfriend combines high-speed rap screeds with tongue in cheek burlesque dancing to achieve one of the most unique vibes in the music biz. Doug Maccash,, "Burlesque rapper Boyfriend blows away Jazz Fest 2018," 5 May 2018 The name is intended to be tongue in cheek and slightly subvert expectations. Brianna Wellen, Chicago Reader, "Arts / Comedy / Music / Performing Arts The new Monday night show at Beauty Bar isn't Salonathon, it's Something Else," 21 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of tongue-in-cheek


1899, in the meaning defined above


1856, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tongue-in-cheek

Statistics for tongue-in-cheek

Time Traveler for tongue-in-cheek

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

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tongue-in-cheek

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tongue-in-cheek

Comments on tongue-in-cheek

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


an agreement to stop fighting a war

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!