A raccoon and a buzzard meet up in a circus and have a giggle.
You laughing yet? No?
Strange. The sentence is composed of some of the funniest words in the English language, according to new research by the University of Warwick.
In a bid to understand how humour works at word level, two psychologists have asked 950 participants to rate a sample of words according to how hilarious they find them.
The results have led to the creation of a database of Humour Norms, which is available online at https://github.com/tomasengelthaler/HumorNorms. The authors hope it will provide a valuable resource for, among other things, machine learning.
The overall funniest word is booty, followed by tit, booby, hooter, nitwit, twit, waddle and tinkle.
But researchers have also picked up on other interesting trends. For example, less frequent words were rated as more humorous.
And while most words were rated equally by participants of different gender or age, others divided opinions. Ladies laugh at ‘beast’ or ‘circus’, whereas gentlemen are more entertained by words like ‘chauffeur’ and the already mentioned buzzard and raccoon – in addition to a bunch of naughty words. Funnily enough, women also rated ‘momma’ as humorous.
Similarly, young people are tickled by ‘goatee’ or ‘joint’, whereas older participants chuckle at ‘caddie’ or ‘birthright’. Speaking a different language?