The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, looked at surveys from over 800 online volunteers. The volunteers were asked to rate randomly selected words on a scale of 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous).
Of note from the findings: men and women tend to find different words funny. For men, sexual words like “orgy” and “bondage” were considered funny. Men also rated “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn” and “racoon” higher on the humor scale. Women, on the other hand, rated “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” and “momma” higher on the humor scale.
“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” lead author Tomas Engelthaler, said in a statement. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case.”
And the funniest English words are…
It should be noted that, with a little over 800 participants, this study was relatively small considering the number of native English speakers around the world. However, it does give a dataset for future studies on the subject.
“Humor is an everyday aspect of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations,” Engelthaler said.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the great pieces in our Explore Your World Through Language campaign.