Hilarious or Hysterical?!?

Do you think I am hilarious? Or even better, do you think I am hysterical?

Many of us, including myself, use these words interchangeably. In fact, I probably use the word hysterical more frequently than the word hilarious. As in “dude, that post was hysterical!”

But I got to wondering which was the appropriate word to use in a situation where you find one of my posts funny… or I find one of your posts funny.

So I did a little research.

Hilarious means: marked by or causing hilarity; extremely funny.

Hilarity means: cheerfulness; mirthfulness; boisterous gaiety or merriment.

If you weren’t sure, like I wasn’t, mirthfully means: joyous; gay; jolly: a mirthful laugh; providing mirth; amusing: a mirthful experience.

On the other hand…

Hysterical means: of, pertaining to, or characterized by hysteria; uncontrollably emotional; irrational from fear, emotion, or an emotional shock; causing hysteria; suffering from or subject to hysteria.

Hysteria means: a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions; behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess.

With all that in mind and after reading through some older posts… well… I guess I don’t really know which is the appropriate word.

So I thought I’d take a poll:



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9 responses to “Hilarious or Hysterical?!?

  1. You are funnier when you WRITE…jeeeze….

  2. Richard Wiseman

    Being English I’m not given to laughing out loud very much, but I do laugh out loud when I read your blogs and that’s always my marker for something hilarious. I watch comedians and comedy shows on TV and listen to comedy on the radio. I find them amusing or funny at times, but very few make me laugh out loud. A show that makes me laugh out loud regularly is BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Now Show’, a news based satire program. However, you often make me laugh out loud, but what I like about your blog, as with ‘The Now Show’, is that there is insight and intelligence in your blog writing. What you have to say on many matters is not just hilarious, but well observed and well depicted; your blog is intelligent and the humour is the kind that English people like in that it satirizes, makes a good point and is very well written as well as being bloody funny.

  3. I usually say something’s hilarious and use hysterical as a modifier to describe laughter – like “he laughed hysterically.” This would indicate that he’s laughing in a manner congruent with a hysterical fit (or one that you could assume to be similar if you’ve never viewed a hysterical fit). If you just say, “that was hysterical,” people generally know you don’t mean actual hysteria. Unless, of course, you say it in an abnormal psychology class or something. Context is everything.

  4. Aw, we don’t get to see the “other” responses? Now I’m hysterical! Mine said, “Steve, your blog posts are fun to comment on, and sometimes very Seussical.”

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