'Funny if it weren't so sad' is used to describe situations which are very sad, for example because of utter incompetence in a serious situation, so sad in fact that one goes on to say it could be deemed funny.

I am specifically looking for a word which emphasises that the funny or comic part follows from the sad or tragic part. Full disclosure: this clarification was added after the first answer. This is also where the question differs from this question about something funny and sad at the same time.

One word to describe this is pathetic, however I feel that word isn't quite strong enough. The definition by CB:

"causing feelings of sadness, sympathy, or sometimes lack of respect, especially because a person or an animal is suffering"

Example sentence (the bold is to be replaced by another word, the [would be] could be left out or replaced for a form of to be):

So at that point we lost the nuclear football, apparently it has been put on some commercial flight and it's now travelling at 10 kilometres over the Atlantic, this situation [would be] funny if it weren't so sad.


Perhaps tragicomic(al)?

Definition of tragicomic

1 : of, relating to, or resembling tragicomedy

2 : manifesting both tragic and comic aspects


  • Thanks for your answer, I think it comes really close. There is only one downside, I think, which is that the word doesn't emphasise that the comic part follows from the tragic part. Specifically, something might manifest comic and tragic aspects through different things (a film can be comical because the characters make jokes, but at the same time be tragic because it's about death and suffering). I will emphasize this implication (comic due to tragedy / sadness) in my question.
    – JJJ
    Mar 19 '18 at 8:30
  • Upvote for pointing out a very interesting, rarely used word. Mar 19 '18 at 12:31

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