'Booty' Is The Funniest Word In The English Language, Study Says

A study surveyed 821 people to find the funniest words in the English language.


Which word is funnier: porridge or oatmeal?

That was the question that inspired a new study that ranks the funniest words in the English language.

“Apparently my supervisor's kids couldn't stop laughing at 'porridge' one morning during breakfast,” Engelthaler said. “He was really confused because 'porridge' and 'oatmeal' are the same thing, but they sound different. He thought 'porridge' was funnier, I thought 'oatmeal' was funnier. So, we decided to make a study to kind of settle the argument.”

Engelthaler and his colleagues at the University of Warwick asked 821 people in the U.S. to rate 200 words, which were chosen from a list of 5,000. 

The top 12 words, in order of funniest, were:

booty, tit, booby, hooter, nitwit, twit, waddle, tinkle, bebop, egghead, ass and twerp.

At the other extreme, these were the words respondents found least humorous:

rape, torture, torment, gunshot, death, nightmare, war, trauma, rapist, distrust, deathbed, pain.

The researchers' main objective was to establish a data-set to be used in future humor studies. Still, the results showed some interesting trends, particularly in the differences between what men and women consider funny.

“Men find more dirty words funnier,” Engelthaler said. “Women kind of prefer humor that’s sound-driven and innocent. So, women find words like giggle and beast funnier, whereas men find words like orgy and bondage funnier.”

As far as the words both sexes found similarly funny? Chug, fluff, scrotum, jabber, joke, buttocks, boon, yank, tinker, prance. The results also showed that both sexes tended to consider strange words funnier. 

“We found that words that are really infrequent, so words people are unfamiliar with, are funnier on average,” Engelthaler said. “I think you’re less used to them, so you find them strange and funny.”

Engelthaler thinks this might be explained by the benign violations theory, which suggests that we find something funny when it deviates from our expectations, but only in a way that’s not too offensive. That might explain why curse words didn't top the list.

“They end up being somewhere closer to the top,” Engelthaler said. “But they're not at the very top, which is because, I guess, they offend a slight fraction of the people they're presented to.” 

Strange words could also be funny for a different reason.

“One thing we want to look into is the sounds of the words, because there have been studies that have taken a look nonsensical words,” Engelthaler said . “They found that certain sounds in the words and sound patterns make them really funny. So even though the word has no meaning at all, they still can be funny words.”

Although the words were rated by people in the U.S., the U.K. researchers didn't notice much of a difference between what people in the two countries consider funny.

“As long as something’s slightly naughty and slightly dirty, and not too negative, you would find funny in both the U.K. English and the U.S. English,” Engelthaler said.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

15 surprising life lessons from a highly successful 80-year-old

You can use these to get ahead, no matter your age.

Personal Growth

Blackstone's Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Private Wealth Solutions Group, gave a speech laying out the wisdom he learned during his 80 years. Here are 15 of Wien's best life lessons, which teach us about improving our productivity, sleep, burnout avoidance, and everything in between.

Keep reading Show less

Employees don't quit their job, they quit their boss

According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.

Photo credit: Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

Read more at LinkedIn.

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less