So today my friend gave a really good line about leftovers. I personally thought it was very witty. I tried to give a witty response, but it ended up being kind of lame and not making much sense, hehe.

I thought to myself, "I tried to be witty... but I ended up being _". And then I couldn't fill in the blank. I wanted to say corny, but I wasn't sure if that was correct. So what is the opposite of witty?

  • 8
    How about "witless"?
    – Sven Yargs
    May 28, 2014 at 1:26
  • 7
    In English literature of the Restoration and eighteenth-century period (e.g., Wycherley's Country Wife, Pope's "Essay on Criticism" and "Dunciad," Sheridan's School for Scandal) the opposite of wit (which was a major cultural value) was quite reliably dullness; that of witty, dull. Still would work, I should think. May 28, 2014 at 2:05
  • I tried to be witty but it went over like <insert your favorite simile here>: lead balloon, screen door on a submarine, kickstand on a Sherman tank, etc. OR ... but I ended up just sounding stupid.
    – Jim
    May 28, 2014 at 3:38
  • 1
    If it's for a quip, try twitty. May 28, 2014 at 5:47
  • 1
    I think you may have provided your own answer: lame (Of something intended to be entertaining) uninspiring and dull: "I tried to give a witty response, but it just ended up being lame."
    – Raad
    May 28, 2014 at 11:30

9 Answers 9


The opposite of witty could be witless but in the following example

I tried to be funny but I ended up witless

It simply doesn't work. Moreover, witless suggests that the person lacks basic intelligence, someone who doesn't have a clue, and is dependent on another. Overall an ambiguous and very negative adjective which I would generally not recommend. On the other hand...

I tried to be witty but I ended up witless

is actually quite witty IMHO, and works because of the preceding adjective. But as a stand alone, and for the reasons I explained above, I think witless is best avoided.

Normally this type of situation—a line that comes off as being unfunny (or unoriginal)—is said to fall flat.

I tried to be witty but I ended up falling flat on my face.

I tried to be witty, but it fell flat

A punchline falls flat when it fails to receive the expected reaction from the listener i.e. laughter.

Depending on the lack of positive response from an audience you could say a comedian was a complete fiasco and his act a disaster.

Most of her jokes fell flat and her act was a disaster

Of course, the most obvious solution is unwitty. It fits perfectly.

I tried to be funny but I was unwitty
I tried to be witty but I was unwitty

Wiktionary says: unwitty (comparative more unwitty, superlative most unwitty) (chiefly archaic) not witty; without wit; silly


I would think either dull or dry.

Dull: lacking zest or vivacity

Dry: not showing or communicating warmth, enthusiasm, or tender feeling

  • 2
    You can have dry humo(u)r. If you said someone's reply was dry, I might interpret it as being amusing!
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 28, 2014 at 4:47
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - that is why it is great to use. You can have dry humor. But if a person is dry, they are dull and boring with no wit. May 28, 2014 at 4:56

Some near-antonyms of witty (according to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus) include:

  • uncomic
  • unamusing
  • witless
  • unfunny
  • corny

The words unclever, slow-witted, and (courtesy of @Drew) dim-witted are also appropriate for the context.

  • 2
    And perhaps dim-witted.
    – Drew
    May 28, 2014 at 2:53
  • What exactly does corny mean? I've always struggled with this word since none of my friends or family use it. Can it simply describe a response that is un-clever, forced, lame? Is it a catch-all for bad lines (or jokes) that you deliver?
    – ktm5124
    May 28, 2014 at 3:09
  • @ktm5124 It's a rather colloquial word, but OED still has a great definition: "trite, banal, or mawkishly sentimental" (It is used similarly to "cheesy", if you are familiar with that term).
    – Ted Broda
    May 28, 2014 at 3:14
  • @Theodore Broda Hm, sounds like "corny" may not be the word I'm after. All of the definitions I read for it have to do with something trite or sentimental. But I'm talking about something that was either forced or a stretch - saying something unnatural where a person might accuse you of trying to hard.
    – ktm5124
    May 28, 2014 at 3:26
  • @ktm5124 The word corny has many nuanced definitions; I've heard it used in that sense as well.
    – Ted Broda
    May 28, 2014 at 3:36

A fool likely fits with how a person feels in that situation (speaking from personal experience).


Banal or uninspired could work in this context.

Banal - lacking originality, freshness, or novelty

Uninspired - dull or ordinary; unimaginative


I tried being witty, but my remark came off as rather banal.


John was drunk and trying to be funny, but his attempts were rather uninspired.

  • Hey, I've made an aggressive edit to your answer, the suggestions in it were good. Answers aren't a good place to make comments about the question though, use comments for that.
    – dwjohnston
    May 28, 2014 at 2:16

Limp, half-hearted, tepid; maybe even outwitted.


The word "dumb" seems to fit well in this scenario.

  • Possibly, but then it would be better prefixed with 'sounding' or 'feeling' rather than 'being'. Other similar words that also work better after sounding/feeling instead of being include foolish or daft.
    – Sam
    May 28, 2014 at 12:37

How about: humdrum, dull, lame, or stupid.

I tried being witty, but my remark came off as rather lame.

Back when I were in school the response to "unfunny" jokes were to call them "lame" or "stupid" (as in "a lame punchline")

Also mundane or stale.

Some more ideas here: http://thesaurus.com/browse/boring

  • And then I noticed that others, even the original poster, mentioned Lame already. Lame is the best answer.
    – Johan
    May 29, 2014 at 9:02

Inficete adj. - dull, unfunny, deadly serious, humorless

Po-faced having an overly serious demeanor or attitude; humorless.

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