Butt of a joke

Butt of a joke is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom butt of a joke, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

The butt of a joke is the person who is the target of a joke; he is the person who is being ridiculed or mocked. For instance, a political leader is often the butt of a joke. The expression butt of a joke goes back to the 1600s, when targets for archery practice were placed upon mounds or butts. Therefore, the phrase butt of a joke may be considered interchangeable with the phrase target of a joke. The plural form for people who are targeted for humor is butts of jokes. The plural form for many jokes about the same person is butt of jokes.


“You were either the butt of a joke or an inspirational story,” Good Doctor writer-producer David Renaud, a wheelchair user, said during RespectAbility’s ADA30 Summit on July 29. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Wendy Rangel, 22, often films her father, a natural jokester originally from the Mexican state of Baja California, because he does not mind making himself the butt of a joke on a social media app that he barely understands. (The Los Angeles Times)

“Traditional butts of jokes have been women and minorities and LGBT folks and people with disabilities.” (The Sunday Star Times)

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