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joke (n.)

1660s, joque, "a jest, something done to excite laughter," from Latin iocus "joke, jest, sport, pastime" (source also of French jeu, Spanish juego, Portuguese jogo, Italian gioco), from Proto-Italic *joko-, from PIE *iok-o- "word, utterance," from root *yek- (1) "to speak" (cognates: Welsh iaith, Breton iez "language," Middle Irish icht "people;" Old High German jehan, Old Saxon gehan "to say, express, utter;" Old High German jiht, German Beichte "confession").

Originally a colloquial or slang word. Meaning "something not real or to no purpose, someone not to be taken seriously" is from 1791. Black joke is old slang for "smutty song" (1733), from use of that phrase in the refrain of a then-popular song as a euphemism for "the monosyllable." Lithuanian juokas "laugh, laughter," in plural "joke(s)" probably is borrowed from German.

joke (v.)

1660s, "to make a joke," from joke (n.) or else from Latin iocari "to jest, joke," from iocus "joke, sport, pastime." Related: Joked; joking.

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Definitions of joke from WordNet
1
joke (n.)
a humorous anecdote or remark intended to provoke laughter;
he told a very funny joke
Synonyms: gag / laugh / jest / jape
joke (n.)
activity characterized by good humor;
Synonyms: jest / jocularity
joke (n.)
a ludicrous or grotesque act done for fun and amusement;
Synonyms: antic / prank / trick / caper / put-on
joke (n.)
a triviality not to be taken seriously;
I regarded his campaign for mayor as a joke
2
joke (v.)
tell a joke; speak humorously;
He often jokes even when he appears serious
Synonyms: jest
joke (v.)
act in a funny or teasing way;
Synonyms: jest
From wordnet.princeton.edu