1 of 2


: something said or done to provoke laughter
especially : a brief oral narrative with a climactic humorous twist
: the humorous or ridiculous element in something
: an instance of jesting : kidding
can't take a joke
: something not to be taken seriously : a trifling matter
consider his skiing a jokeHarold Callender
often used in negative constructions
it is no joke to be lost in the desert


2 of 2


joked; joking

transitive verb

: to make the object of a joke : kid
jokingly adverb

Example Sentences

Noun She meant it as a joke, but many people took her seriously. They played a harmless joke on him. They are always making jokes about his car. I heard a funny joke yesterday. the punch line of a joke I didn't get the joke. That exam was a joke. Their product became a joke in the industry. He's in danger of becoming a national joke. Verb My friends would joke about the uniform I had to wear at work. She joked about the possibility of losing her job. I thought he was joking when he said he might quit, but it turned out that he really meant it. Don't take it seriously: I was only joking. She spent a few minutes joking with reporters after giving her speech. She joked that she could always get work as a truck driver if she lost her job. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Cohen says sharing a small laugh together—even at a joke that fell completely flat—is a joint experience that communicates interest. Alyssa Girdwain, Women's Health, 17 Mar. 2023 Thanks for always offering me a shoulder to cry on and a bad joke to laugh at. Maya Kachroo-levine, Travel + Leisure, 16 Mar. 2023 But the mystery of the fast-food deluge, which has the feel of a joke whose punchline has yet to be revealed, is the talk of the neighborhood. Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2023 Before Bliefnick closed off access, Twitter user @901Lulu backed up several of the videos, which show Bliefnick staring into the camera with a coffee mug before telling a joke and taking a sip. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 15 Mar. 2023 Jimmy Kimmel, 55, hosted the ceremony on Sunday night, one year after Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage when Rock, 58, made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Charmaine Patterson, Peoplemag, 14 Mar. 2023 That particular joke passed quickly, but the metaphor hung in the air. Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times, 14 Mar. 2023 But there's a pretty good joke in the intersection of their highbrow trappings and lowbrow appeal. A.a. Dowd, Chron, 14 Mar. 2023 But so much more happened in the Dolby Theatre and backstage in the media room, Jamie Lee Curtis cracked an edgy joke in front of a room full of reporters – and quickly regretted it. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, 13 Mar. 2023
Hoping to joke about the city’s stereotypes, the organization gathered local musicians — including a chorus, a string quartet and a DJ — to recreate the 2008 song for its announcement. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2023 Any chance at all this could be a terrible hoax or joke that someone is playing? David Begnaud, CBS News, 18 Mar. 2023 Mining researchers in South Africa sometimes joke that the story of gold mining runs from AA to ZZ—from multinationals like Anglo American to zama-zamas. Kimon De Greef, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2023 Nightlife on Maui and Kauai Sometimes, people joke that Kauai shuts down by 9 p.m. Sunny Fitzgerald, Travel + Leisure, 18 Feb. 2023 For Hubbard, it’s been fun to watch Wills -- a quiet guy who still knows how to joke around -- overcome that hurdle and to not only produce but get to have fun while doing it. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 8 Oct. 2022 Colleran began to joke that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Natachi Onwuamaegbu, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2022 Her neighbors used to joke ruefully about being in a flood zone. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 Jan. 2023 My kids joke with each other in a way that feels like siblings. Alix Strauss, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'joke.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Latin jocus; perhaps akin to Old High German gehan to say, Sanskrit yācati he asks

First Known Use


1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1670, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of joke was in 1670

Dictionary Entries Near joke

Cite this Entry

“Joke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: something said or done to cause laughter
especially : a brief story with a humorous twist
: the humorous element in something
: good-natured kidding
can't take a joke
: something not to be taken seriously
that exam was a joke


2 of 2 verb
joked; joking
: to make jokes : jest
jokingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on joke

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