This may or may not be an unpopular opinion, but I am a total sucker for dad jokes. The more silly and pun-filled the joke is, the more it delights me. For some reason, I also have a fascination with Shakespearian insults, like "nitwit" and "jolt-head." If you, too, find yourself snickering at a number of silly words, then you’ll have a blast chortling over a new list of the funniest words in the English language.
Do you giggle every time you hear someone say the word "jiggly"? How about "wriggle"? Does that prompt a chuckle? A new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, dove into what exactly makes some words hilarious, and what makes others unlikely to spark a laugh. While words can, of course, be hilarious because of their meaning or connotation alone, a lot of it can also be due to the literal sounds of certain words, the study found.
Lest I leave you hanging, the top 10 funniest English words, according to a ScienceDaily press release for this new study, are upchuck, bubby, boff, wriggly, yaps, giggle, cooch, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly. Noticing a pattern yet? Or are you too busy bursting into a fit of giggles?
While something like "cooch" may seem super unscientific, the researchers found, as per the ScienceDaily press release, that it’s actually pretty easy to predict how funny a given word can be, by using certain kinds of metrics. The letter "k" and the sound "oo," for instance, are apparently more likely to be found in funny words than non-funny words, the researchers found. They also identified six different categories into which you can divide funny words: sex, bodily functions, insults, swear words, partying, and animals.
The funniest words, the study found, had a tendency to appear in more than one of these categories. Side note: Can you imagine how hilarious a word that overlapped the insults, partying, and animals categories would be? But I digress.
Personally, I’ve never heard of some of these words, like "bubby," and that might be part of the reason why it’s so funny. A similar study from 2016, published in the Journal of Memory and Language, looked at why certain nonsense words tend to tickle your funny bone more than others, and basically, the research found that, the less "real-sounding" a word is, the more like you are to find it funny. And really, if you think about it, this follows one of the basic tenants of humor: Disrupted expectations usually get a laugh.
For example, one of the reasons I love viral videos about animals so much is because they usually go viral as a result of the animal doing something that they usually wouldn’t. If you can train a pup to dance like a human or produce a whine that sounds like he’s singing an opera song, I’ll be pawsitively cackling in no time.
Of course, you definitely can’t forget potty humor’s place in a discussion of funny words. I don’t think I’ve ever met an adult who hasn’t chuckled at the occasional "booty" punchline. According to a survey of over 800 people, published in the experimental psychology journal Behavior Research Methods, this kind of humor, while often attributed to, say, middle school boys, is pretty universal. The top three funniest words in the survey’s results were "booty," "tit," and "booby," proving that people’s fascination with body parts lasts long after the throes of puberty have subsided.
OK, you googlybutt. Go tell a joke that includes one of these silly words, and watch as it brightens someone’s day.
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