1. Coworker showed us a pic on her phone of a Christmas ornament given to her by her late Grandmother. All one guy could offer was how the tree looked burned.

  2. Another coworker was on poster to play in a band for a charity event and the same guy just made fun of how another guy looked.

  3. The guy intentionally miss hears something just so he can substitute it with a word or phrase only he finds amusing.

What's the single word or phrase for someone who acts like this guy does?

  • In your title you mention "joke" but you don't emphasis that in the body of your question. I am assuming that you're talking about someone purposely using a "dry sense of humor" but other people seem to be assuming something else
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 21:45
  • I would describe it as a form of deadpan humor using 'feigned ignorance' as a device. .... but that still doesn't catch it exactly and it certainly isn't a short way of putting it.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 21:59
  • I think "wrly" in a way that expresses dry, especially mocking, humor google.com/… would be a good word to express that they were being funny but it would need another word to go with it to say they were "wryly missing the point"
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 22:41
  • I do not believe he is truly trying to get a warm laugh. It's much more acerbic than that, and usually leaves people very annoyed or can sour the tone of the group, leaving others either silent or visibly ticked.
    – user214895
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 2:59
  • How about "EL&U commenter"?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 0:16

7 Answers 7


This guy is being a smart-ass. The term can be used to describe someone who is irritatingly clever or smug. His "jokes" are about things beyond the topic at hand, and tend to be a little on the rude side. He's deliberately ignoring the focus of the conversation to satisfy himself with his own wittiness, which other people find less amusing.

  • I voted this up, but how applicable it is depends on both what the OPs intent was as well as how the "smart-ass" label is applied. FWIW I find this sort of irreverent humor very funny ... "other people" might not though. Also, like all wry and/or sarcastic humor ... it's in the delivery....as would be the retort "you smart-ass" if said with a wink and a chuckle compared to a earnest tone of irritation. Calling someone a "smart-ass" could, in itself, be a "smart-ass" reply.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 23:20
  • I would like an alternative to "smart-ass" simply because I am writing a short story and would like to describe in writing how this person interacts with coworkers
    – user214895
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 14:00

You could say "He/She is being deliberately obtuse".


Annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand:

Oxford Dictionary

The apparently dull-witted but actually quite astute Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) was accused of this once by a frustrated suspect.

"Are you actually this stupid, or are you just being deliberately obtuse?"

  • 1
    How about "wryly obtuse" wry: in a way that expresses dry, especially mocking, humor.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 22:37

These guys are obviously "playing dumb" so as to be comical and provoke laughter.

  • play dumb - "to pretend to not know or not understand something"


  • "He was playing dumb only to be funny."
  • "Don’t play dumb with me – I know you took the money."
  • "She said she would play dumb if challenged by a police officer."

Your coworker is making offhand comments.

Ungraciously or offensively nonchalant or cool in manner.

(Oxford Living Dictionaries)


Facetious is the word you are looking for.

Facetious /fəˈsiːʃəs/


treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour; flippant.

"a facetious remark"

  • 1
    Hi Ryan, welcome to EL&U. There are two problems with your answer: firstly, it looks like you've quoted from a dictionary, but you should edit your post to add a link or, at the very least, cite the source. Secondly – and more importantly – I think you've chosen the wrong word: facetious does not describe "someone who intentionally misses the point". Can I suggest you read How to Answer, and take the EL&U Tour for further guidance on how our site differs from others. :-) Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 8:16

A particular form of the topic of your post is something I see so frequently that I find it quite problematic: At least when it's the type of this action when it is a persistent, deliberate deflection of the speaker from their obvious intent in what they were stating, just to obstruct their communication, and to avoid just facing their intended point directly then to resolve it already and be done with it.

They do it to keep the speaker indefinitely stranded in inability to get-through, even to the point of suffering the consequences of never hearing a critical warning that would affect them, too —.

I would classify it as malicious obstructionism.


I would simply say this guy is immature.



  1. Having or showing an emotional or intellectual development appropriate to someone younger.

  2. Exhibiting less than an expected degree of maturity.

  • 2
    While this is something an immature person might do, it's not what immature means
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 16:13

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