Word: facetious

Pronunciation: fə-SEE-shəs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


“Facetious” is another word I’ve heard plenty of times, but that for some reason I almost never bothered to research. In truth, no matter how many times I’d hear it, I could never figure out what it meant, either because the context wasn’t clear or I just wasn’t paying enough attention (the latter being more likely). So finally, I broke my lazy streak and decided to look it up, and to my surprise, I found a definition that I probably never would have come up with on my own. That should teach me to ignore a chance at learning something new, right?

A “facetious” person or act is one noted for treating serious issues as a joke, inappropriately and on purpose. Originally used with the general definition “amusing”, this word arose in the late 16th century from the French adjective facétieux, which comes from the Latin noun facetia (“jest” or “joke”). The noun, in turn, stems from the adjective facetus, meaning “witty” or “clever”.

Note that other dictionaries provide slightly different definitions for “facetious”. It could refer to behavior that is playfully humorous, or it could define speech that is meant to be funny but that just comes off as annoying. Personally, though, I prefer the first definition I learned, so I would probably use this word for characters who know exactly what they’re doing when they poke fun at serious topics. I’d definitely like to try writing about mischievous characters and their “facetious” antics!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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