These Are The Funniest Words In The English Langauge, According To Science


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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Did you crack a smile? Don't worry, this study has got your back. Sarah R/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Tinkle. Booty. Waddle. Ass. Twerp. These are just some of the words that have apparently been scientifically proven to be hilarious.

A new study by psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK carefully sifted through the English language to find out which words tickled people the most. Their research, published in the journal Behavior Research Methods, also found the least funny words and broke the data down into different demographics.


The top 10 funniest words, in order, were: Booty, Tit, Booby, Hooter, Nitwit, Twit, Waddle, Tinkle, Bebop, Egghead, Ass, and – last but not least – Twerp.

They found least funny words in the English language are: Rape, Torture, Torment, Gunshot, Death, Nightmare, War, Trauma, Rapist, Distrust, Deathbed, and Pain.

To discover this, the researchers chose 5,000 randomly selected words and showed them to over 800 participants, asking them to rate from one to five how funny they found each word. As the psychologists noted, humor is something very easy to feel but often tough to pin down and define. Of course, it also doesn't help that humor is a highly subjective matter– some sources indicate the show The Big Bang Theory is actually a source of laughter for many people.

“Darwin called humor 'tickling the min'. Thomas Hobbes referred to it as a feeling of 'sudden glory'. These represent a selection from a long list of efforts to provide a theory of humor,” the study notes.


“The appreciation of humor is a fundamental, albeit mysterious, part of human cognition. What makes one thing funnier than another? And what makes some topics inviolable in relation to humor?”

They also found that men found sexual words more humorous than women, such as orgy and bondage. Some of the other words they enjoyed more than women were birthmark, brand, chauffeur, doze, buzzard, czar, weld, prod, corn, and raccoon.

On the other hand, the female participants said the funniest words included giggle, beast, circus, grand, juju, humbug, slicker, sweat, ennui, holder, momma, and sod.

Younger people aged 32 and below, or "Millennials" as advertising-types calling them, thought words like goatee, joint, squabble, and gangster were funniest. Older people laughed more at squint, jingle, limey, burlesque, pong, and housewife.


“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity. We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own,” lead author Tomas Engelthaler said in a statement.

“It turns out that indeed is the case. Humour is an everyday aspect of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations."


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