“Whereas the mirror’s facetious comments were meant to lighten the situation, the queen’s sarcastic responses indicated that she was clearly not amused.”

What is the best definition of facetious?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Playfully but inappropriately humorous
Choice B - Appropriately serious and respectful
Choice C - Unreasonably harsh or cruel to others
Choice D - Secretly intended to cause harm


Facetious (adjective) – playfully but inappropriately humorous; intended to be in jest and lacking in due seriousness

Facetiousness (noun) – playfulness and joking that is often inappropriate or crude; lack of seriousness and gravity

GRE pro tips:

Facetious is one of those elusive words that many have a hard time pinning down. Although facetious comments or behaviors are full of jest or wit (as the word’s etymology implies), they also have an element of inappropriateness. When being facetious, one is often not being as serious as would be considered “proper.” Facetiousness is often confused with sarcasm, but, unlike sarcasm, facetiousness is intended to be lighthearted and cleverly amusing and is not intended to be taken seriously. So if someone says “I was just being facetious,” it means that they were joking, perhaps inappropriately, but not in a mean-spirited way.

Example sentences:

“When told that things could not get any worse, he facetiously retorted that things could only get better.”

“Many of Doug’s friends found his lighthearted facetiousness at the funeral to be utterly inappropriate.”

“I’m not being facetious when I say that, in this world, it’s better to be fairly stupid than to be extremely smart.”