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 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 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

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

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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 2 Jul. 2020.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on tongue-in-cheek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tongue-in-cheek

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

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