I remember reading a very specific word defined as "someone who tries to employ wit unsuccessfully". I have not been able to relocate where I read this and my research has been mostly dead-ends thus far.

This is not what I'm looking for: What is a word for someone who tries to be clever?

  • To jog memories, do you recall if the word is formal, technical, slang, based on Latin, based on Anglo-Saxon etc? Also is it new or old, Urban Dictionary or Shakespeare? Jul 17, 2015 at 20:37
  • I think you should employ wit to describe the bon no.
    – Avon
    Jul 17, 2015 at 22:16

5 Answers 5


Witling may be what you're looking for. See here for a definition as "a would-be wit"

  • 1
    That may well be the correct answer. It does however suffer from the disadvantage of being archaic. Here's the Google ngram books.google.com/ngrams/… Jul 17, 2015 at 20:57
  • Ouch! We better get the word out, literally!
    – DyingIsFun
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:11
  • 2
    We're witling away at it.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:31
  • 1
    Hm. This is a good substitute, but I wouldn't consider this an actual answer, based off of Webster's or OED. It implies that the person is either witless, trying to be witty, or considers themselves witty. Jul 17, 2015 at 22:12
  • 1
    Witling is it! Thanks @Silenus. I had no idea it was so archaic.
    – mikeLdub
    Jul 20, 2015 at 17:30

Lame works, although I'm sure classy people use classier terms.


The adjective ham-fisted and its brother ham-handed can be applied to bungled attempts in general, and are often applied to humor, i.e. ham-handed delivery, or a "ham-fisted entertainer who's in on the joke."


The death of the party.

Humor impaired.

Pathologically unfunny.

A comedic train wreck.


Slang phrase: "clever dick" but I cannot think of one word. Sorry.

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