Definition of joke in English:

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Pronunciation: /dʒəʊk/


1A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline: she was in a mood to tell jokes
More example sentences
  • Bill Cosby may have gained his fame and fortune telling jokes and funny stories.
  • He always had a great sense of humour and even during his illness he could still tell a joke or funny story.
  • He tells the funniest jokes and stories and he ends up dominating every conversation.
funny story, jest, witticism, quip, pleasantry;
pun, play on words;
shaggy-dog story, old chestnut, double entendre;
informal gag, wisecrack, crack, funny, one-liner, rib-tickler, killer, knee-slapper, thigh-slapper
North American informal boffola
rare blague
1.1A trick played on someone for fun: the others were playing a joke on her
More example sentences
  • Speeches often take place on a raised stage at the front, and this area also acts as the setting for many of the jokes and tricks played on the new couple.
  • Jay knew she wasn't invited, and this was all a big joke… a trick!
  • Either way, the point was, it was all a trick, a joke, a scam - whatever you wanted to call it.
trick, practical joke, prank, stunt, hoax, jape
informal leg-pull, lark, spoof
Australian informal goak
North American informal, dated cutup
archaic quiz
Scottish archaic cantrip
1.2 [in singular] informal A person or thing that is ridiculously inadequate: public transport is a joke
More example sentences
  • What a ridiculous joke - but it illustrates how far some will go to rationalize their behavior.
  • Although I hear the minimum system requirements are a joke and you really need an alien computer from the future in order to play it in its full-featured adulterous glory.
  • The system is a joke and the fact that employers can still find people to work under the table proves the job hunting clubs are ineffective and symbolize a bureaucracy gone mad.
laughing stock, figure of fun, source of amusement, object of ridicule;
British  Aunt Sally
farce, travesty, waste of time;
standing joke
informal laugh
North American informal shuck


[no object]
1Make jokes; talk humorously or flippantly: she could laugh and joke with her colleagues (as adjective joking) a joking manner
More example sentences
  • The commentators joke with each other in the easy manner that comes with long hours spent together.
  • I joke about the stalking stuff on the other blog.
  • People ask me that all the time and they joke with me.
tell jokes, crack jokes;
jest, banter, quip
informal wisecrack, josh
fool, fool about/around, play a prank, play a trick, play a joke, play a practical joke, tease, hoax, pull someone's leg, mess someone about/around
informal kid, make a monkey out of someone
British informal mess, have someone on, wind someone up
North American informal fun, shuck someone, pull someone's chain, put someone on
British informal, dated rot someone
1.1 [with object] archaic Poke fun at: he was pretending to joke his daughter



be no joke

informal Be a serious matter or difficult undertaking: trying to shop with three children in tow is no joke
More example sentences
  • To me that is no joke, should be taken seriously, and, I believe, is a vile form of self-expression.
  • He said: ‘I was chased for 16 miles yesterday and it was no joke, I can tell you.’
  • I was reprimanded as she told me this was no joke.

can (or can't) take a joke

Be able (or unable) to deal with humorous remarks or tricks without becoming angry or offended: if you can’t take a joke, you should never have joined
More example sentences
  • I should have added that they can't take a joke either.
  • The British like to imagine that they are easy-going and can take a joke while not taking matters too seriously.
  • I love a girl who can take a joke, who's ready for anything.

get (or be or go) beyond a joke

informal Become (or be) something that is serious or worrying: this rain’s getting beyond a joke
More example sentences
  • It was beyond a joke, driving for five miles round and round the car parks, waiting for people to come out.
  • He said: ‘The problem has been going on for months and it is beyond a joke.’
  • A spokesman for Mr Turner said: ‘It is getting beyond a joke.’

joking apart

Said to indicate that one is being serious, especially after making a joke: joking apart, I really appreciate this sort of help
More example sentences
  • Joking apart, the RBS Group corporate report is a document of historic importance.
  • Joking apart, Faldo is still held in awe by the younger players.
  • Joking apart, my husband has been moaning at me for weeks to fly to the UK where I would be safe.

make a joke of

Laugh or be humorous about (something that is not funny in itself): if there is a mishap you can make a joke of it
More example sentences
  • I tried to make a joke of it, but my laugh was fake, a desperate tint to it, well the whole thing seemed desperate actually.
  • But the woman brushed him off, making a joke of his request.
  • Even making a joke of it initially may break the ice and make you come across somewhat less adversarial.

you must be (or have to be) joking

informal Used to express incredulity about someone’s actions or claims: same day delivery service—you have to be joking
More example sentences
  • Phone the bank instead? You are joking—you get into one of those endless loop answering machines.
  • I tell the tourists something costs 15 million and they say I must be joking.
  • When I was told we had not been accepted, I thought they must be joking.


Late 17th century (originally slang): perhaps from Latin jocus 'jest, wordplay'.

  • Joke seems to have been a slang word at first, but it may well come from Latin jocus ‘jest, wordplay’, found also in jocund (Late Middle English), and juggle (Late Middle English). See also jewel

Words that rhyme with joke

awoke, bespoke, bloke, broke, choke, cloak, Coke, convoke, croak, evoke, folk, invoke, Koch, moke, oak, okey-doke, poke, provoke, revoke, roque, smoke, soak, soke, spoke, stoke, stony-broke (US stone-broke), stroke, toke, toque, woke, yoke, yolk

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: joke

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