1 of 2


: characterized by insincerity, irony, or whimsical exaggeration

tongue in cheek

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
While there are myriad options out there to choose from, Dad Grass has made a name for itself by offering hemp flower (hemp is the same plant as pot — cannabis sativa — but bred to contain less than 0.3% THC) with a tongue-in-cheek, retro-nostalgic sensibility. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2023 Kaitlyn Bristowe’s possible Halloween costume may be a tongue-in-cheek reference to her love life. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 27 Oct. 2023 All this may well be intended as tongue-in-cheek by the script, but Lynch’s indelicate handling arrives at something more subjugated by heavy-breathing clichés than ironically playful towards them. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 26 Oct. 2023 But her tongue-in-cheek but terrifying performance in the horror film brought her a second Oscar nomination in the supporting category. Carmel Dagan, Variety, 14 Oct. 2023 But spice aisle giant McCormick & Co. took issue with the tongue-in-cheek sticker. Katie Shepherd, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 Sometimes my tongue-in-cheek sense of humor does tend to get me in trouble, but the wedding wasn't as huge as everybody made it out [to be]. Ariana Quihuiz, Peoplemag, 2 Oct. 2023 Lèse-majesté, which can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail, has covered a wide range of acts deemed offensive to the Thai royal family—from tongue-in-cheek jabs at the king (or at the king’s dog) to sharing social media posts critical of the monarchy. Time, 20 Sep. 2023 Ryan Reynolds is an actor, businessman and, as fans of his tongue-in-cheek videos for Aviation Gin know, a pretty funny pitchman. Kturnqui, oregonlive, 19 Sep. 2023
With that in mind, The Courier Journal offers its annual breakdown of why each horse can and can’t win the Kentucky Derby — many serious, a few tongue in cheek, one destined to be right. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 3 May 2023 The Five Families, as they are called tongue in cheek, have waged a fierce battle for market share, buying out other hospitals and forging partnerships with health insurers. Jmanning, oregonlive, 17 Aug. 2023 The cast is diverse, and the story — while very much tongue in cheek — demonstrates how arts camps can be safe, welcoming spaces for kids. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 21 July 2023 The name was intended to be tongue in cheek, a nod to our goal of making this newsletter feel like a community of readers learning together. Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2023 Watters often plays his role as provocateur with tongue in cheek and is prone to making outrageous statements. Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 26 June 2023 His venting may have been a bit tongue in cheek, but with blink many things are tongue in cheek. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 June 2023 Tennessee famously solicited donations (tongue in cheek) to pay the $100,000 SEC fine and replace the goalposts after ending its losing streak to Alabama last year. Michael Casagrande |, al, 31 May 2023 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 right. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 17 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tongue-in-cheek.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1899, in the meaning defined above


1856, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near tongue-in-cheek

tongue grass


tongue in cheek

Cite this Entry

“Tongue-in-cheek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: not meant to be taken seriously

tongue in cheek

2 of 2 adverb
: in a tongue-in-cheek manner

More from Merriam-Webster on tongue-in-cheek

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