You wouldn’t think that words about fighting are funny, but many are. Fisticuffs is a funny-looking word. Dustup makes me smile. Donnybrook recalls pugilists in Ireland. Ruckus generates guffaws. Throw down sounds country-western. A fracas happens south of the border.
You wouldn’t think that words about fighting are funny but many are.
Fisticuffs is a funny-looking word. Dustup makes me smile. Donnybrook recalls pugilists in Ireland. Ruckus generates guffaws. Throw down sounds country-western. A fracas happens south of the border.
But my favorite is brouhaha because it actually laughs at itself.
Peaceful words are not funny. Tranquility makes me think of a porcupine in an opium den. Calmness happens before the storm. Serenity is a solemn word, as is quietude. I think one might need to be on Quaaludes before using the word quietude.
I looked up tranquility in a thesaurus and found the word ataraxia. Is that like anorexia? No, ataraxia means without disturbance, calm. Actually, doesn’t the x in ataraxia make you nervous? Don’t x’s in general make you jumpy? X-rays, for example, are not always bearers of good tidings.
Maybe it takes another x to cancel out the first x, like Xanax. Now Xanax can make you calm and laugh. It is a brand of alprazolam, and as any kid who has read Captain Marvel comic books knows, anything that sounds like shazam must be good, or at least, magical.
Flibbertygibbet is funny. Nosey parkers are often attracted to flibbertigibbets.
Ne’er-do-wells are not funny guys. Dolt is a funny word. It is one of those Old English words of simplicity and force. It is funny unless someone calls you a dolt. Then it is very unfunny.
Hale-fellows-well-met are funny guys. Although I haven’t encountered a hale fellow since gentlemen stopped wearing spats. Now spats are funny unless you are having one with your spouse.
Wordsmiths are not funny. They are serious people who spend their time honing and sharpening, inserting and deleting. Why, odd bodkins, they don’t use odd words or ancient ones or literary ones, even if they are funny.
Funny words don’t have to be old to be funny, but it helps. They are funny perhaps because they were meant to stand out on a page. We older writers can chortle about that.
Peter Costa is a senior editor qwith GateHouse Media New England. His latest humor book is ”Outrageous CostaLiving: Still laughing through life,” and is available at amazon.com.