Why some words become funnier when paired together

A study looking at more than 55,000 pairs of words has found why word pairings like “funk fungus” and “gnome bone” seem to be more amusing than their constituent parts

Humans 13 May 2022

People laughing at a joke

Some pairs of words are funnier than others

Shutterstock / fizkes

On their own there is nothing particularly funny about the words “gnome” and “bone”, but put them together and it is a different story. Pairings like “gnome bone” seem to make people chuckle, at least according to a study that looked at the funniness of thousands of pairs of words.

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Cynthia S. Q. Siew at the National University of Singapore and her colleagues generated random word pairings using a list of around 5000 words previously studied for their humour or lack thereof. …

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