Fatuous vs. Facetious - What's the difference?


  • Facetious

    Humour (British English) or humor (American English; see spelling differences) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: humor, "body fluid"), controlled human health and emotion. People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. Most people are able to experience humour—be amused, smile or laugh at something funny—and thus are considered to have a sense of humour. The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour inducing it to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational. Though ultimately decided by personal taste, the extent to which a person finds something humorous depends on a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence and context. For example, young children may favour slapstick such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or the Tom and Jerry cartoons, whose physical nature makes it accessible to them. By contrast, more sophisticated forms of humour such as satire require an understanding of its social meaning and context, and thus tend to appeal to a more mature audience.


  • Fatuous (adjective)

    Obnoxiously stupid, vacantly silly, content in one's foolishness.

  • Facetious (adjective)

    Treating serious issues with (often deliberately) inappropriate humour; flippant.

    "Robbie's joke about Heather's appearance was just him being facetious."

  • Facetious (adjective)

    Pleasantly humorous; jocular.

Oxford Dictionary

  • Fatuous (adjective)

    silly and pointless

    "a fatuous comment"

Webster Dictionary

  • Fatuous (adjective)

    Feeble in mind; weak; silly; stupid; foolish; fatuitous.

  • Fatuous (adjective)

    Without reality; illusory, like the ignis fatuus.

  • Facetious (adjective)

    Given to wit and good humor; merry; sportive; jocular; as, a facetious companion.

  • Facetious (adjective)

    Characterized by wit and pleasantry; exciting laughter; as, a facetious story or reply.

Princeton's WordNet

  • Fatuous (adjective)

    complacently or inanely foolish

  • Facetious (adjective)

    cleverly amusing in tone;

    "a bantering tone"

    "facetious remarks"

    "tongue-in-cheek advice"




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