Is there any single word for a joke which is initially told by somebody as a real thing, then when person is fooled, the person disclosing the information that it's just a joke? Like April Fools' joke.


17 Answers 17


Such a joke is often told with deadpan

Deliberately impassive or expressionless

Oxford Dictionaries Online

Example: "His deadpan tone made it difficult to tell whether my dog had actually been crushed by a piano."

This is typically only done in situations where one would expect the speaker to sound serious.

  • 7
    This describes more how the joke is delivered rather than the joke itself.
    – Kenneth K.
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 23:27
  • @KennethK. I agree, but I thought it might be useful anyway
    – aebabis
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 23:57
  • is it the same as "with a straight face?" Commented May 24, 2016 at 6:59
  • @vtd-xml-author Pretty much - but 'keeping a straight face' can also apply when lying about something ("I didn't throw the paint bomb on your car"), or hearing someone else lie. Commented May 24, 2016 at 11:47

While not a noun for the joke itself, the term straight face is often used to describe the demeanor of the teller

A blank or serious facial expression, especially when trying not to laugh: my father kept a straight face when he joked

Oxford Dictionaries Online

Note that this expression is also used to describe someone who is deliberately lying.


You have two concepts there - (a) a joke, and (b) something to fool people. I can't think of something for the first (i.e. something funny), but for the second you could consider:

Ruse - An action intended to deceive someone; a trick

... or synonyms such as hoax, artifice, deceit, and similar. None specifically means "... and then you get told the real answer!", however.


This may fall under a practical joke which ranges from tricking people into believing something frankly preposterous to painting someone's banister in honey. It may also be referred to as a hoax or ruse as stated by Prof yattle.

Edit: upon further consideration, this is a case of somebody kidding you. Often somebody will say, after fooling you: "just kidding".

  • 3
    By definition a practical joke is something practical, i.e. not just saying something.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:12

A shaggy dog story

extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline

Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience's preconceptions of joke-telling. The audience listens to the story with certain expectations, which are either simply not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner.[1] A lengthy shaggy dog story derives its humour from the fact that the joke-teller held the attention of the listeners for a long time (such jokes can take five minutes or more to tell) for no reason at all, as the end resolution is essentially meaningless


  • 2
    You know out on [nearby highway], where the overpass is on the way into [town]? I just heard on the news, there was this teenager up there with a rock on a string, lowering it down to smack against the windshields of cars that passed by. Thought it was funny, y'know? Stupid kids. So after a while, a semi truck came by, and you know how trucks have their windshields straight vertical instead of angled back? Well, the kid had the string tied around his wrist so he wouldn't drop the rock, and because of the angle, the rock broke through the truck's windshield and got snagged there! Commented May 24, 2016 at 15:12
  • 4
    Pulled the poor kid's arm right off, because it was tied to the string! [wait for horrified reactions] But they say they arrested the truck driver. [wait for confused/shocked reactions] Clear-cut case of armed robbery. Commented May 24, 2016 at 15:13
  • I just tried this on my friend, it totally worked.
    – schil227
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 14:10

Consider "conceit" - defn 2.1 here: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/conceit

In comedy, a conceit can refer to a situation in which the comedian pretends that a story or situation is true, even if it can be easily demonstrated to be false, in order to exploit it for comic effect. The audience "plays along" with the comedian, buying into the conceit in order to enjoy the comedy more. April Fools stories could be seen as an example of this: some people are fooled by them, but most people will see through it quickly but still enjoy seeing it presented as if it were a serious news story.


A leg-pull - from the phrase "pull one's leg".

(Similarly - at least in Australia - "yank one's chain". In other cultures this seems to mean to harrass.)

  • I'm British and would consider chain-yanking a perfectly normal phrase for the concept.
    – Jules
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:36

I believe the closest word would be "kidding". Examples: "I told him I lost his favorite DVD, but I was just kidding." "He hoped they were kidding about his wife having an affair."


Such a story could be yarn.

And to tell such a story would be to spin a yarn.

an exciting or interesting story; especially : a story that is so surprising or unusual that it is difficult to believe

Merriam-Webster Online


You might be looking for "hoax" which is "a humorous or malicious deception"


You might be dancing around the word Sarcasm.

Obnoxious person: Hey can I eat your lunch?

You: Sure, I wasn't hungry, I actually brought it here just in case you needed something.

Obnoxious person: Thanks! ~takes a bite~

You: I was being sarcastic...



to say or do something jokingly or mockingly



'Pulled one' is a common idiom for this sort of thing:

Bob really pulled one on Sally, he had her convinced the zombie apocalypse had begun.

If you really need a single word or "pulled one" is too vague, gag works well too:

Bob is a real joker, he has this gag where he pretends to not know what common words mean; really gets people worked up.


I think you mean parody or farce or other such descriptions, all of which are considered as creative expression and as such are protected by law.


If you're trying to trick the person for a little bit, just in fun, the word would be "spoof." Another related word is "hoax," but that's not necessarily a joke.



noun: anecdote; plural noun: anecdotes

  • an account regarded as unreliable or hearsay.

"his wife's death has long been the subject of rumour and anecdote"



Being an old curmudgeon with no sense of humor, I tend to use an old-fashioned word for this: it’s a lie:

a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood

something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture

But I’ve heard the youngsters referring to such a stunt as a prank:

a trick of an amusing, playful, or sometimes malicious nature

I remember this word as a noun, but I’ve heard the kids using it as a verb.         ;-)

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