Practical joke

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Surprisingly, the term practical joke is about 250 years old. We will examine the meaning of the term practical joke, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A practical joke is a prank, a physical joke that is designed to cause slight embarrassment or consternation to the subject of the practical joke, but in a good-natured fashion. An few examples of  practical jokes is the use of a whoopee cushion or the practice of covering a car with Post-it notes. Of course, one must be careful when perpetrating a practical joke, as it is very easy to cross the line of light-heartedness into bullying. The term practical joke dates back to the 1770s, derived from an older term, handicraft joke. A practical joker is someone who engineers a practical joke. Compare the term practical joke to the film terms practical effect and practical stunt, which describe effects and stunts that are achieved with physical tricks and makeup rather than CGI, or computer-generated imagery.


The British and Irish Lions forwards appear to be one up in their tour battle against the backs after a practical joke involving tying together the laces of their abandoned shoes after training here in Rotorua. (The New Zealand Herald)

Following a day-long investigation that concluded about 3 p.m., investigating deputies and school administration determined that the student’s Instagram account, a smartphone social media app used to share photographs and corresponding captions, had been hacked by another Summerville High School student as a “practical joke.” (The Union Democrat)

Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata got his sweet revenge by playing a funny prank on a fan after being the victim of a practical joke himself recently. (The Daily Mail)