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Your English: Collocations: joke

Type: Article

Tim Bowen makes sure that the joke is not on you with these useful collocations.

A good joke is probably funny and may even be cracking or hilarious. A bad joke, on the other hand, can be feeble, silly or lame in that it is weak and not very funny, or it can be downright awful, stupid or terrible. Jokes that are extremely well-known and often rather predictable can be described as old or corny, as in ‘Dad always used to embarrass us with his corny jokes’. 

There are various adjectives that collocate with joke to describe jokes that cause offence, including crass, cruel, offensive, racist, sexist, sick and tasteless, as in ‘He told a number of tasteless jokes that seemed to offend the whole audience’. Jokes that focus on sex are at best simply dirty, smutty or a bit risqué, and at worst crude or filthy, as in ‘We don’t need to hear any more of your crude jokes, thank you’. 

A practical joke is physical a trick that is intended to surprise someone or make them look silly, as in ‘April Fools’ Day is the classic occasion for playing practical jokes on your friends and colleagues’. 

Of course, as people who tell, repeat or crack jokes will know, they only work if people get them (i.e. understand them) and if a joke goes wrong for some reason, it will either backfire (and have a negative effect, possibly on the person telling the joke) or fall flat (not be funny or not be appreciated by the recipient). In that case, the joke will definitely be on the person who tells it.

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