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Why jiggly makes us giggly: Researchers reveal why some words make us laugh



There are some words that seem to inexplicably cause laughter among the people who hear them uttered.

From jiggly to bubby, researchers have ranked the 10 funniest terms in the English language, based on ratings of nearly 5,000 words.

In a new analysis, the team found that two types of factors in particular are most effective in predicting a word's funniness, with sounds such as 'oo' and categories including body functions with the most weight.

There are some words that seem to inexplicably cause laughter among the people who hear them uttered. From jiggly to bubby, researchers have ranked the 10 funniest terms in the English language. Stock image

There are some words that seem to inexplicably cause laughter among the people who hear them uttered. From jiggly to bubby, researchers have ranked the 10 funniest terms in the English language. Stock image

There are some words that seem to inexplicably cause laughter among the people who hear them uttered. From jiggly to bubby, researchers have ranked the 10 funniest terms in the English language. Stock image

WHAT ARE THE 10 FUNNIEST WORDS?

  • Upchuck
  • Bubby
  • Boff
  • Wriggly
  • Yaps
  • Giggle
  • C ** ch
  • Guffaw
  • Puffball
  • Jiggly

'Humor is, of course, still personal,' explained Chris Westbury, professor at the Department of Psychology at the Faculty of Science.

'Here, we get at the elements of humor that are not personal; things that are universally funny. '

The researchers built a previous study from the University of Warwick, in which participants were asked to rate the funniness of nearly 5,000 English words.

In the new work, the team took these ratings and modified them statistically.

'Our model was good at predicting which words participants would judge how funny, and to what extent,' Westbury said.

According to the researchers, the funniest words include upchuck, bubby, wriggly, giggle, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly.

And, they all have a few things in common.

The team says prediction funniness ultimately boils down to two factors: predictors and semantic predictors.

The first is a measure of elements such as length, letter, and sound probabilities. According to the researchers, the letter 'k' and the sound 'oo' appear more often in words considered to be funny.

The funniest words included 'jiggly.' The Pokemon Jigglypuff is pictured

The funniest words included 'jiggly.' The Pokemon Jigglypuff is pictured

According to the researchers, the funniest words include upchuck, bubby, wriggly, giggle, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly. Puffball mushrooms are shown

According to the researchers, the funniest words include upchuck, bubby, wriggly, giggle, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly. Puffball mushrooms are shown

According to the researchers, the funniest words include upchuck, bubby, wriggly, giggle, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly. The Pokemon Jigglypuff (left) and common puffball mushrooms (right) are shown

Semantic predictors, on the other hand, measure the words' relation to different emotions, and six categories linked to funny words: sex, bodily functions, insults, swear words, partying, and animals.

'We started out by identifying these six categories,' Westbury said.

'It turns out that the best predictor of funnity is not the distance from one of those six categories, but rather a long distance from the six categories.

'This makes sense, because lots of words that people find funny fall into more than one category, like sex and bodily functions – like boobs.'


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