Butt of a joke

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Butt of a joke is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. 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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