A few years ago, Dr. Robert Beard compiled a list of the 100 funniest words he had come across in nearly a decade of daily vocabulary emails he would send to hundreds of thousands of people.
Here’s the list of his 100 funniest English words. I’ve always been a fan of brouhaha, canoodle, doozy, flibbertigibbet, hootenanny, kerfuffle, ornery, rambunctious, shenanigan, skedaddle, and troglodyte.
Which one is your favorite? Any funny words you think should be added to the list?
I’m usually in the camp that it’s better to use a majority of simple, short, old words that are accessible to readers when writing fiction. I am not amused or impressed by authors who have a love affair with their thesaurus and shove every possible multisyllabic word into their text. Once again, I am looking at you, Christopher Paolini.
But if there’s a fun word that fits naturally in the tone of the novel, throw one in every once in a while! One per scene, one per page, one per paragraph, more—you decide. Make it a word readers will circle in their books because they love it and want to use it in conversation during their lunch break. Just remember, you want to be readable, not detestable. Understandable, not put-down-able.
Less is more.