Just received this joke:

Q: What do you call a midget fortuneteller on the run from the law?

A: A small medium at large.

the 'Q' I understood. It's a runaway psychic gnome.

But what does A means? Is it geometric term or something?

  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about explaining a joke, which the community has judged to be off-topic.
    – Mitch
    Nov 3, 2013 at 21:37
  • What is a geometric term?
    – Kris
    Nov 4, 2013 at 6:53
  • 2
    @Mitch, the help says that Jokes that do not rely on the English language are off-topic, but this joke relies on the double meanings of medium and large, which appears to me on-topic. Nov 4, 2013 at 12:28
  • 4
    I think the OP is confused about what “Q:” and “A:” mean in this context, and doesn't realize that “A(nswer):” is the punchline to the joke asked in “Q(uestion):”. Nov 4, 2013 at 23:09
  • 1
    I don't know why it would be considered off-topic here, but I imagine it's on-topic at ELL.
    – user28567
    Nov 4, 2013 at 23:57

2 Answers 2


Small in the punchline means exactly what you would expect...

Being below the average in size or magnitude.

Medium is another word for a psychic...

pl. mediums A person thought to have the power to communicate with the spirits of the dead or with agents of another world or dimension. Also called psychic.

and at large is...

Not in confinement or captivity; at liberty: a convict still at large.

The joke relies on the double meanings of medium and at large.

  • Thank you. But you just described the first meaning, that is abvious. I guess, second meaning is just thee words about dimentions. Is that right?
    – E L
    Nov 3, 2013 at 17:51
  • 1
    @EL, yes, the second meaning is the normal meaning. Nov 3, 2013 at 18:08
  • Thanx. I think I understood this joke. I thought it should be funnier =)
    – E L
    Nov 3, 2013 at 18:26
  • Also, the humor is partly because of hearing small', 'medium', and 'large' in sequence for something other than drink sizes.
    – Mitch
    Nov 3, 2013 at 21:38
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    @Kris, this looks a perfectly reasonable question to me: Jokes that do not rely on the English language are off topic, but this is one that does. Nov 4, 2013 at 7:53

What Brian Hooper said, above; plus, the "small," "medium," and "large" are common sizes of soft drinks and other food items which are for sale at most fast-food restaurants.

"I'll have a small fries, a medium coke, and a large milkshake, please."

Changing the and in "small, medium, and large" to "small medium at large" is therefore a play on words. A medium, in the context of this play on words, is also known as a psychic, and vice versa. A medium acts, supposedly, as a go-between who channels spirits from the beyond to the here and now.

Instead of getting a picture in your head of three different sizes of soft drinks, the picture you might get is of a small psychic/medium trying to avoid capture by the cops. It's a mildly amusing picture, IMO.

  • Except that there is never a 'small' drink, or 'small' coffee available. They always start at medium, or what the Americans call 'regular'. Before 'regular' became adopted as meaning a smaller portion of something e.g. chips, drink etc. the word was mostly used for describing people's toilet pattern. One breakfast cereal was sold with the line 'keeps you regular'! I always think of this when my grandson wants a hamburger, and I'm asked if the chips are to be 'regular' or 'large'. (I never eat the trash myself)
    – WS2
    Nov 3, 2013 at 21:44
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    @WS2: Starbucks at least has a secret cup size for its coffee-flavoured hot-milk drinks. So asking for a "small" latte/cappuccino/etc. means you will be given a "tall" cup, but asking for a "short" will give you a smaller cup at a marginally lower price than is on the board.
    – Henry
    Nov 3, 2013 at 21:56
  • @WS2 Thanks. I'll remember that next time :)
    – Kris
    Nov 4, 2013 at 6:52
  • but if I want exactly a small drink, then what?
    – E L
    Nov 4, 2013 at 13:04
  • @E L Ask for an espresso with some additional hot water to dilute. Or better still, go to a place where they sell decent coffee. In Britain, never a coffee-drinking nation, you can get a lovely cup of tea. But the coffee is awful, Starbucks worst of all. If you want a good cup of coffee go to France or Italy. Any mum & dad cafe will produce something incomparably better and at half the price of the miserable coffee chains.
    – WS2
    Nov 4, 2013 at 22:34

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