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 Musk has always been tongue in cheek with his crypto dabbling, but his latest posts have sown confusion across the industry and revived the debate over whether the nascent asset class is a serious investment. Anchalee Worrachate, Fortune, 18 May 2021 Here’s a look at why each horse can and can’t win the Preakness – many serious, a few tongue in cheek and one destined to be wrong. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 12 May 2021 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, 19 Apr. 2021 With tongue in cheek, Boudreaux began calling herself the Admiral of the house float fleet. Doug Maccash,, 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, 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, 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,, 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, 27 Dec. 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

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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 22 Jun. 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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tongue-in-cheek


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