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Fine-Tuning 23, Hysterical/Hilarious

 
 
Roberta
 
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 06:28 pm
This past week in Newsweek and The New York Times, I encountered the use of the word hysterical when hilarious should have been used. A joke cannot be hysterical. A situation cannot be hysterical. Only a person can be hysterical. A joke or situation that is extremely funny is hilarious. A hilarious joke or situation can make a person hysterical.

Hysterical isn't in the dictionary, but hysteria is, as is hysterics--a fit of uncontrollable laughter or crying.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 1,178 • Replies: 8
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 07:12 pm
ooooooooooooohhhhhhh, thanks Roboita!
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Wy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 11:44 pm
Merriam-Webster online (www.m-w.com) lists hysterical as an adjective form of hysteria... and tanks from me too, R!

non sequitur: An ex of mine used to use immaculate to mean wonderful
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 12:11 am
Oh Roberta, here is how AHD explains hysterical
adj.
(1)Of, characterized by, or arising from hysteria.

(2) Having or prone to having hysterics.

(3) Informal
Extremely funny:

told a hysterical story.

Now you understand, not only the word "hysterical" is in dictionary, but it can mean "extremely funny"(informal), so a joke can be hysterical.
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 12:45 am
Littlek, :-)

Wy, Immaculate? Not only is it the wrong word, but it's the wrong part of speech.


Oristar, That definition is not in my dictionaries. I suspect that the "informal" definitionis a result of many people using the word incorrectly. Hysterical may eventually become an acceptable alternative to hilarious, but it isn't there yet, IMO.
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 05:29 am
Hi Roberta, it has been there:

(1) Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

hysterical
adjective
1 unable to control your feelings or behaviour because you are extremely frightened, angry, excited, etc:
Calm down, you're getting hysterical.
The police were accused of hysterical over-reaction.
hysterical laughter (= uncontrolled laughter)

2 INFORMAL extremely funny:
His last film was hysterical.

(2) Dictionary.com

5 entries found for hysterical.
Of, characterized by, or arising from hysteria.
Having or prone to having hysterics.
Informal. Extremely funny: told a hysterical story.

hysterical

Of or pertaining to hysteria; affected, or troubled, with hysterics; convulsive, fitful.

hysterical

adj 1: characterized by or arising from psychoneurotic hysteria; "during hysterical conditions various functions of the human body are disordered"- Morris Fishbein; "hysterical amnesia" [syn: hysteric] 2: marked by excessive or uncontrollable emotion; "hysterical laughter"; "a mob of hysterical vigilantes"
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 06:40 am
Roberta is right.
The rest of you are wrong.
OK with that?
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 07:03 am
McTag wrote:
Roberta is right.
The rest of you are wrong.
OK with that?


Drunk
After swallowing down three bottles of wine, Oristar grumbled:"Yes, sir!"
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2003 07:15 am
McTag, I'm stone cold sober, and I don't have a problem with that.
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