fa·​ce·​tious fə-ˈsē-shəs How to pronounce facetious (audio)
: joking or jesting often inappropriately : waggish
just being facetious
: meant to be humorous or funny : not serious
a facetious remark
facetiously adverb
facetiousness noun

Frequently Asked Questions

Is facetious insulting?

It is not inherently insulting to say that someone is being facetious (although it may imply dubious or ill-timed attempts at wit or humor). The word comes from the Latin facetia, meaning "jest."

What is the difference between facetious and sarcastic?

Facetious may be defined as "joking or jesting often inappropriately" or "not serious." Sarcastic, on the other hand, while still concerned with humor, tends to imply a more caustic or biting quality that is often intended to cause pain.

Is facetious the same as facetiousness?

Facetious is an adjective ("not serious," "waggish"), while facetiousness is a noun ("the state or quality of being facetious"). The adverb form is facetiously.

Choose the Right Synonym for facetious

witty, humorous, facetious, jocular, jocose mean provoking or intended to provoke laughter.

witty suggests cleverness and quickness of mind.

a witty remark

humorous applies broadly to anything that evokes usually genial laughter and may contrast with witty in suggesting whimsicality or eccentricity.

humorous anecdotes

facetious stresses a desire to produce laughter and may be derogatory in implying dubious or ill-timed attempts at wit or humor.

facetious comments

jocular implies a usually habitual fondness for jesting and joking.

a jocular fellow

jocose is somewhat less derogatory than facetious in suggesting habitual waggishness or playfulness.

jocose proposals

Examples of facetious in a Sentence

The portrait is good, the prose embroidered here with the facetious parlance—is that the word?—of clubs. V. S. Pritchett, "Club and Country," 1949, in A Man of Letters1985
Nor was Liebling seriously asserting that his facetious bit of investigation into Tin Pan Alley history constituted a refutation of Sartre's philosophy. Raymond Sokolov, Wayward Reporter, 1980
… old ladies shrivelling to nothing in a forest of flowers and giant facetious get-well cards … John Updike, Trust Me, 1962
the essay is a facetious commentary on the absurdity of war as a solution for international disputes a facetious and tasteless remark about people in famine-stricken countries being spared the problem of overeating
Recent Examples on the Web Here the girlhood parallels move beyond the facetious to acquire a darker quality, as shame begins to erode Oppenheimer’s sense of self. Iva Dixit, New York Times, 19 Sep. 2023 The quote went viral on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as a clip of his comments began drawing facetious backlash. Angela Yang, NBC News, 21 Aug. 2023 The film’s insularity belies what is, in the end, its inclusivity, or at least a facetious stab at inclusion. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 In This Playlist 10 of 1219 Episodes From today’s Down in Alabama podcast: A facetious award given to former Sen. Richard Shelby. Ike Morgan | Imorgan@al.com, al, 28 Apr. 2023 As with the Main Street Caucus and the Republican Governance Group, the Problem Solvers Caucus doesn’t lend itself even to facetious comparisons with any existing criminal organization. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 27 Mar. 2023 Herron suspects that le Carré would find his work facetious. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 This turns the fairy tale facetious. Armond White, National Review, 15 Sep. 2021 That was clever but facetious. James Freeman, WSJ, 25 May 2021 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from Middle French facetieux, facecieux, from facetie "joke, jesting remark" (borrowed from Latin facētia, facētiae "cleverness, wit," in plural sense, "amusing things, jests") + -eux (going back to Latin -ōsus -ous) — more at facetiae

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of facetious was in 1594


Dictionary Entries Near facetious

Cite this Entry

“Facetious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facetious. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


fa·​ce·​tious fə-ˈsē-shəs How to pronounce facetious (audio)
: joking or kidding often inappropriately
just being facetious
: meant to be funny : not serious
a facetious remark
facetiously adverb
facetiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on facetious

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