facetious (Oxford Dictionaries):

treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour; flippant

I'm looking for a word that means the total opposite; to treat humorus or non-serious issues with deliberately inappropriate gravity. There exist a few words and phrases that can get the idea across (cantankerous, old grouch, stick-in-the-mud), but they usually speak to more than just my specific sought definition. Also just a word would be preferable; phrases generally aren't nearly as satisfying in their delivery. Thanks.

  • 2
    Pompous fits with your examples but they aren't really deliberate, they are more like manifestations of personality. Deadpan sounds closer to me: something you deliberately do. Feb 10, 2016 at 8:27
  • Are you after a noun or an adjective? It would make a big difference: if an adjective, it could be applied to a noun that adds the notion of an attempt (or a successful attempt) at humor.
    – JEL
    Feb 10, 2016 at 9:26
  • Might be something on this list to help you: merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/facetious Feb 10, 2016 at 11:58
  • Jacinto, the antonym of facetious is serious. I can feel the Portuguese, believe it. You have said: old grouch, cantankerous, stick-in-the-mud which are not antonyms of facetious. Be facetious is fancy talk for be funny or comical. "I was being facetious" v "I was being serious". "I was being light hearted" v. "I am dead serious".
    – Lambie
    Mar 19, 2016 at 20:49
  • @Lambie I didn't say anything; I've only superficially edited the question. You should address your comment to Axalon57.
    – Jacinto
    Mar 19, 2016 at 21:29

4 Answers 4


tongue-in-cheek: "If you say something tongue in ​cheek, you ​intend it to be ​understood as a ​joke, ​although you might ​appear to be ​serious"

Edit: @Hugh Meyers' reponse of deadpan should probably be mentioned in an answer rather than just as a comment.


The word straight may be useful, but in your case requires additional words around it for context, such as:

  • Also "with a straight face". Mar 25, 2016 at 1:23


Being earnest is essentially being serious, and being sincere.




See whether that's appropriate : scolastic 1. of, relating to, or befitting schools, scholars, or education 2. pedantic or precise 3. (Historical Terms) (often capital) characteristic of or relating to the medieval Schoolmen n 4. a student or pupil 5. a person who is given to quibbling or logical subtleties; pedant 6. (Historical Terms) (often capital) a disciple or adherent of scholasticism; Schoolman 7. (Roman Catholic Church) a. a Jesuit student who is undergoing a period of probation prior to commencing his theological studies b. the status and position of such a student 8. (Art Terms) a formalist in art

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