3 Ways to Say Funny: 好笑 vs 可笑 vs 幽默

Do you know these 3 ways to say funny: 好笑 , 可笑, 幽默 ?

How about the differences between them?

They might sound similar but they’re actually different – don’t get them mixed up!

The best place to start is with 好笑 (hǎo xìao). 好笑 (hǎo xìao) is the most basic, vanilla way to say “funny.” It’s a neutral / positive word and you can use it in most situations that you find funny.

Example 1)


“dāng tā yǎn gěi nǐ kàn de shí hou nǐ huì jué de hěn hǎo xiào “

“When he acts, you’ll find it really funny

Example 2)

这是一个看上去很好笑的故事 “

“zhè shì yí gè kàn shàng qù hěn hǎo xiào de gù shi “

“This looks like a very funny story”

But don’t confuse 好笑 (hǎo xìao) with 可笑 (kě xiào) – you might insult the people around you and that might not be very funny!

Unlike 好笑 (hǎo xìao), 可笑 (kě xiào) is usually used for people or incidents that are especially stupid or ridiculous. To put it another way, if you call someone 好笑 (hǎo xìao) then you are usually laughing with them. But if you say they’re 可笑 (kě xiào) then you’re laughing at them. So typically, when you’re talking to someone, you use 可笑  (kě xiào) to refer to a 3rd party so that you and your friend can laugh at them together. But in many situations 可笑 can be used interchangeably with 好笑 (eg. Example 3).

Example 3)


“mǒu xiē guó jiā shuō cháo xiǎn zhǔn bèi fā shè dǎo dàn shì fēi cháng kě xiào de shì qíng “

“Some countries say that North Korea preparing to fire a missile is a really ridiculous thing”

Example 4)

回忆当时的滑稽情形,于德翔自己都觉得可笑 “

“huí yì dāng shí de huá jī qíng xíng, yú dé xiáng zì jǐ dōu jué de kě xiào  “

“Thinking back to comical situation, even Yu Dexiang himself thought it was ridiculous

Example 5)

。。。苹果公司遇到的一些非常可笑的法律诉讼 “

“…píng guǒ gōng sī yù dào de yì xiē fēi cháng kě xiào de fǎ lǜ sù sòng “

“…some very ridiculous lawsuits encountered by Apple”

好笑 (hǎo xìao) and 可笑 (kě xiào) are also different from 幽默 (yōu mò), which means “humorous.” Like “humorous,” 幽默 (yōu mò) sounds more sophisticated. You can think Mark Twain or the awesome and amazing Joe Wong for 幽默 (yōu mò).  A related word is 幽默感 (yōu mò gǎn), which means “sense of humor.”

Example 6)

他的幽默感染了每一个人 “

“tā de yōu mò gǎn rǎn le měi yí gè rén “

“His sense of humor infected everyone”

Example 7)

西方科学家,有的多才多艺,有的诙谐幽默 “

“xī fāng kē xué jiā, yǒu de duō cái duō yì, yǒu de huī xié yōu mò

“Some western scientists are multi-talented, and some are humorous

 Hope you enjoyed this post!

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6 Responses to 3 Ways to Say Funny: 好笑 vs 可笑 vs 幽默

  1. Ryan P. April 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    duocaiduoyi..isnt that considered an idiom?

    gaoxiao…where does that exactly fit it. Is this correct (from nciku) 她觉得他讲的笑话不是很搞笑. ?

  2. Alan April 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Excellent explanation Alan, and the examples suggested are awesome as well, well done.

    In my opinion, the difference between 好笑 and 可笑, is 可笑 is always used in a negative way to describe someone or something.

    這個人很好笑。 This guy is funny.(because of what he said or did,such as cracking a joke)

    這個人很可笑。 This guy is funny.(also beacause of what he said or did, but in a pathetic way, such as trying to use a lie to cover up another lie.)

    • Alan April 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! Agree with your pithy explanation — getting straight to the essence!

  3. Wmjgigi April 11, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I’ve also heard about gaoxiao 搞笑, but some people told me that it has a neutral / negative accent as 可笑, while others say that it can be used in place of 幽默

    • Alan April 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

      Thanks for the question. I think 幽默 is unquestionably positive (like humorous) while 可笑 is negative (you can try telling someone it and see their reaction :) ).

      搞笑 is really generally like “funny.” So yes it can be neutral and it can also be positive.

      Hope that helps!



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