English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for a literary word which means "to create laughter". Is there such a word in English?

I'm going to use this word in the following title:

Philosophical Theories of "Creating Laughter" and Study of Adaptive Samples of His Humor

share|improve this question
Any other word/ phrase/ term/ neologism may not convey the meaning as directly and unambiguously as it is now. Your proposed title is fine as I see it. – Kris Feb 6 '12 at 7:54
up vote 6 down vote accepted

A commonly-used term for this is risible, with senses including

  1. Of or pertaining to laughter
  2. Provoking laughter; ludicrous; ridiculous; humorously insignificant
  3. (of a person) Easily laughing; prone to laughter

The first part of the title you're considering would read "Philosophical Theories of Risibility". (I don't know what you mean in the second part of the title.)

share|improve this answer
Sounds an absolutely good word for me. – Manoochehr Feb 6 '12 at 8:04
Sounds like funny, mirthful, laughable, hilarious, amusing are not literary words. Strange to me :D As far as I know literary is not equal of Latin ;-) – speedyGonzales Feb 6 '12 at 8:36
Does risible have a negative connotation? Longman defines: something that is risible is so stupid that it deserves to be laughed at [SYN ridiculous]. – Manoochehr Feb 6 '12 at 8:40
Manoochehr has second thoughts. Yes, risible relates to laughable as well, so beware. Syn.: ludicrous, ridiculous, laughable, comical, funny. [] – Kris Feb 6 '12 at 8:51
In the 1800's when "risibility" was a relatively popular word, "risible" was understood to mean "having the power to create laughter", and, by extension, "creating laughter". "Risibility", however, was understood to mean not "creating laughter" but "the quality of laughing". A critical pronouncing dictionary – MετάEd Feb 6 '12 at 15:17

I think these (risibility, humorousness) words are not so usable because the humor is always two-sided thing. You can't make a joke that would be funny for everybody. Even more, jokes are very rarely funny for really broad public. Children jokes are a bit more universal, but they are for children only. The jokes for elder public highly depend on the culture and the place of the listener in it.

Because of that the word humor is used instead. It supposes the sense of humor on both sides.

So, why not Philosophical Theories of Humor instead? You won't be risible with such title :-)

share|improve this answer
good to point out! – Manoochehr Feb 6 '12 at 12:08
+1 for 'You won't be risible' – Kris Feb 6 '12 at 15:00

I think "humorousness" might be another option "Philosophical Theories of Humorousness" sounds good to me and the word is much more common even in the other than English speaking countries

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.