Is the word “booty” really funnier than “ass”? And does the word “bondage” raise a laugh more than “giggle”? A new behaviour research study looks at the perceived funniness of individual English words, and finds that women and men consider different words amusing. But is this really the case?
Women and men do often laugh at some of the same words according to the study. There is the common view that slang words associated with sex and the bodily functions are hilarious. The words “booty”, “tit”, “booby” and “hooter” were rated as funnier than children’s abuse words such as “nitwit”, “twit” and “twerp”.
But men found lightly pornographic words, such as “bondage” and “orgy”, funnier than women – whereas women nominated words such as “giggle” and “humbug”. Giggle is a word stereotypically associated with girls and women, but not in a complimentary way: it conjures up the childlike image of girls in huddles laughing nastily about others, according to the Urban Dictionary (UD).
But “giggle” also has wider connotations. The UD says it can mean many things, including when a girl laughs mockingly at a man’s small penis and a slang term for cannabis. “Humbug” may have been picked because it has a nice old-fashioned sound or because it is used by older people, rather than for its current slang usage. The slang site Slang Define suggests that the phrase “Bah, humbug” has the more abusive meaning of, broadly: “Who gives a fuck!”
Read more: The Conversation