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How to Say “Funny” in Chinese: 6 Common Words

There are several ways to say “funny” in Chinese. You have 好笑, 可笑,  幽默—and a few more, each with its own specific usage.

Find out all the common words that all mean “funny” in Chinese, with examples so you’ll be clear on when exactly to use them.


1. 好笑 (hǎo xìao)

This is the most basic, vanilla way to say “funny.

It can be a neutral or positive word, and it works for most situations that you find funny. If you’re not sure how to say “funny” in Chinese, this is the default word to use!

(dāng tā yǎn xì de shí hou, nǐ huì jué de hěn hǎo xiào.)
When he acts, you’ll find it really funny.

(zhè ge gù shi kàn shàng qù hěn hǎo xiào.)
This looks like a very funny story. 

2. 可笑 (kě xiào)

可笑 is typically used for people or incidents that are especially stupid or ridiculous. So don’t confuse it with 好笑—you might insult people around you.

To put it another way, if you call someone 好笑, then you are usually laughing with them. But if you say they’re 可笑, then you’re laughing at them. So typically, when you’re talking to someone, you use 可笑 to refer to a third party so that you and your friend can laugh at them together.

(nà gè lùn diǎn shí zài shì tài kě xiào, wán quán méi yǒu dào lǐ.)
That argument is simply ridiculous and makes no sense at all.

(tā de zhuāng bàn kàn qǐ lái tài kě xiào le, xiàng shì gè xiǎo chǒu.)
His outfit looks too ridiculous, like a clown’s costume.

3. 幽默 (yōu mò)

幽默 is a very different word since it means “humorous.” Like “humorous,” 幽默 sounds more sophisticated. You can think of Mark Twain or Jimmy O. Yang as 幽默 (yōu mò).  

幽默 also has a positive tone. You can compliment a person by saying they’re 幽默, which means they’re being witty and good at making people laugh. Of course, you can also describe shows, books and situations as 幽默.

(tā de yōu mò gǎn rǎn le měi yí gè rén)
His sense of humor infected everyone.

(zhè ge kǎ piàn shàng de xiào hua hěn yōu mò.)
The joke on this card is very humorous.

A related word is 幽默感 (yōu mò gǎn), which means “sense of humor.”

4. 滑稽 (huá jī)

滑稽 is a more nuanced word that means something is goofy, silly, or absurd. You can think of it as the Chinese word for “comical.”

滑稽 can describe humor that’s exaggerated or even ridiculous, like funny faces, slapstick comedy or clownish antics. A good example would be a cartoon character who waddles or wears oversized shoes.

(hái zi mó fǎng dà ren de yàng zi, zhēn shì huá jī jí le.)
The child mimicking the adult is extremely comical.

(tā chuān zhuó yí tào dòng wù zhuāng bàn chū xiàn, kàn qǐ lái fēi cháng huá jī.)
He showed up wearing an animal costume, looking very amusing.

5. 搞笑 (gǎo xiào)

This is a casual term that means “funny” in a lighthearted way.

Unlike 可笑, it’s not negative or mocking. There’s also a sense of it being done on purpose—搞 means “doing” or “making,” so the phrase literally means “making people laugh.” You can even use it to describe your own silly mistakes.

(míng xīng zài jié mù zhōng jīng cháng tōng guò gǎo xiào lái xī yǐn guān zhòng.)
Celebrities often engage in funny antics on the show to attract viewers.

(wǒ jū rán bǎ chē yào shi suǒ zài chē lǐ le, zhēn shì gǎo xiào.)
I actually locked my car keys in the car; how ridiculous of me.

6. (dòu)

逗 is a more playful word for “funny.” It can also describe the act of teasing or joking.

Unlike 搞笑, which implies an active attempt to be funny, 逗 is used more broadly for anything amusing. Friends might say, “别逗了 (bié dòu le) — Stop teasing” to each other, and parents might tell their kids warmly, “我来逗逗你 (wǒ lái dòu dòu nǐ) — I’ll play with you.”

(zhè běn màn huà shū zhēn dòu, ràng rén rěn bú zhù xiào chū shēng lái.)
This comic book is really funny; it makes you burst into laughter.

(nèi zhī xiǎo gǒu tài dòu le.)
That puppy is so amusing.


As you can see, there are several ways to say “funny” in Chinese. The catch-all word for “funny” is 好笑, but as you get more comfortable with Chinese, you can start trying out the other terms for more nuance. You can also use native media or programs like FluentU to better understand the context of these words.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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While you’re at it, check out Chinese comedy and jokes too so you can understand Chinese humor better. 

Hope you enjoyed this post!

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