How to describe something (in this case, a description) that is humorous in an intellectual way?

  • Shades of "witty": "arch," "ironic," "sardonic"
    – SAH
    Nov 1, 2016 at 20:46

6 Answers 6


adjective ( wittier , wittiest )
showing or characterized by quick and inventive verbal humor: a witty remark | Marlowe was charming and witty.


I think this is about as close as you can come. It has its origins in wit, obviously, which means "mental sharpness and inventiveness; keen intelligence."


According to wiktionary, adjective dry has a sense

(of a person or joke) Subtly humorous, yet without mirth.

That is, wiktionary suggests that dry humor does not lead to laughter, merriment, jollity; but dry humor still is considered essentially funny and unstrained. Bloodless humor, on the other hand, is humor that is "lacking emotion, passion or vivacity". You might also refer to wry humor, which includes senses

• Humorously sarcastic or mocking; "dry humor"; "an ironic remark often conveys an intended meaning obliquely"; "an ironic novel"; "an ironical smile"; "with a wry Scottish wit"
• Disdainfully or ironically humorous; scornful and mocking; "his rebellion is the bitter, sardonic laughter of all great satirists"


droll means funny or amusing. It doesn't necessarily mean intellectual, but as many people seem not to know exactly what it does mean, I think it can carry that connotation (at least in AmE).


Clever is another alternative that comes to mind.

  • Using clever in the sense of 'intellectual' hurts. People do use it with a positive connotation.
    – Kris
    Apr 16, 2012 at 19:16

Facetious: cleverly amusing in tone.

  • 1
    Good answer! A sentence using the word might be helpful too. Nov 19, 2012 at 19:27

Amuse (v) to provide interesting and enjoyable occupation for (someone). to cause to laugh or smile by giving pleasure.

And, as the Queen of England might say: "We are not amused"