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Hilarious vs. Funny: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 29, 2023
"Funny" refers to something amusing or entertaining, while "hilarious" denotes a higher degree of humor, often causing loud laughter or amusement.

Key Differences

Hilarious is a term used to describe something that is extremely funny, often causing robust laughter or amusement. It implies a higher intensity of humor compared to the word funny, which is a broader term used for anything that is amusing or entertaining. While something funny can elicit a smile or chuckle, hilarious often leads to louder, uncontrollable laughter.
In usage, hilarious is often reserved for situations or jokes that provoke strong, hearty laughter. It's used when the level of humor is significantly high. On the other hand, funny is more commonly used and can refer to a wider range of humorous situations, from mildly amusing to quite entertaining, but not necessarily causing a strong laughter response.
The context in which hilarious and funny are used also differs. Hilarious is more likely to be used in a context where the humor is overwhelming and highly noticeable. Funny, however, is a versatile term that can be applied to subtle, dry, or even sarcastic humor, not just the instances that provoke loud laughter.
Hilarious might be used to describe something that is unexpectedly humorous or absurd to a high degree, whereas funny can apply to anything that is intended to amuse, regardless of the strength of the reaction it elicits. A witty remark can be funny, but a side-splitting comedy routine is more likely to be described as hilarious.
In summary, while both hilarious and funny relate to humor, hilarious denotes a stronger, more intense form of amusement, often leading to louder and more pronounced laughter. Funny, in contrast, is a broader term that covers a wide spectrum of humor, from a slight chuckle to a hearty laugh, but not necessarily to the extent of hilarity.

Comparison Chart

Intensity of Humor

Extremely funny, causing robust laughter
Amusing or entertaining, causing mild laughter or smiles

Usage Context

Used for overwhelmingly humorous situations
Used for a wide range of amusing situations

Reaction Provoked

Loud, uncontrollable laughter
Smiles, chuckles, or moderate laughter


For absurdly funny or unexpected humor
For subtle, dry, sarcastic, or mildly amusing humor

Emotional Response

Strong, pronounced laughter
General amusement or entertainment

Hilarious and Funny Definitions


Hilarious means extremely funny and laughter-inducing.
The comedian's performance was so hilarious that the audience couldn't stop laughing.


Funny refers to something that is amusing or entertaining.
He has a funny way of telling stories that always captivates his listeners.


Hilarious is used for situations that provoke loud, hearty laughter.
His impersonation of the celebrity was so hilarious it brought tears of laughter.


Funny is used to describe a humorous or comical situation.
It's funny how sometimes the smallest things can make us smile.


Hilarious describes humor of a high degree, often unexpected.
The movie's unexpected plot twist was absolutely hilarious.


Funny can imply a light, amusing quality.
The puppy's antics were funny and endearing.


Hilarious refers to something that causes amusement to an extreme extent.
The play was so hilarious, every joke landed perfectly with the audience.


Funny means causing laughter or amusement.
The cartoon was really funny and made the kids giggle.


Hilarious is often used to emphasize the intensity of humor in a situation.
The way the dog chased its tail was just hilarious.


Funny is often used for things that are mildly amusing.
The joke was funny but not enough to cause a big laugh.


Characterized by or causing great merriment.


Causing laughter or amusement
A funny cartoon.


Very funny; causing great merriment and laughter.
A hilarious joke


Making or given to making amusing jokes or witticisms
A colleague who is very funny.


Full of hilarity; merry.


Mirthful; noisy; merry.


Marked by or causing boisterous merriment or convulsive laughter;
Hilarious broad comedy
A screaming farce
Uproarious stories


Can a joke be both funny and hilarious?

Yes, a joke can be both funny and hilarious, depending on the reaction it elicits.

Is hilarious a stronger term than funny?

Yes, hilarious is a stronger term, indicating a higher degree of humor.

What defines something as hilarious?

Hilarious refers to something extremely funny, often causing loud and robust laughter.

Are all hilarious things funny?

Yes, all hilarious things are funny, but not all funny things are hilarious.

What kind of laughter does hilarious usually cause?

Hilarious usually causes loud, uncontrollable laughter.

Do comedians aim to be funny or hilarious?

Comedians often aim to be hilarious, though being funny is also a key goal.

Can a situation be unintentionally hilarious?

Yes, situations can be unintentionally hilarious due to unexpected humor.

What qualifies as funny?

Funny describes anything that causes laughter or amusement, regardless of intensity.

Is it subjective whether something is funny or hilarious?

Yes, humor is subjective, so what's funny or hilarious can vary from person to person.

Are funny movies always hilarious?

Not all funny movies are hilarious; some may just be mildly amusing.

Is it common for children to be funny or hilarious?

Children can often be both funny and hilarious in their innocence and spontaneity.

How do audiences typically react to hilarious content?

Audiences react to hilarious content with robust, often loud laughter.

Is it easier to be funny or hilarious in writing?

It's generally easier to be funny than hilarious in writing, as hilarity often relies on delivery and timing.

Can something be funny without being hilarious?

Yes, many things are funny without reaching the level of being hilarious.

Can a book be described as hilarious?

Yes, a book with extremely funny content can be described as hilarious.

What makes a stand-up routine hilarious?

A stand-up routine is hilarious if it provokes loud and hearty laughter.

Can animals be funny or hilarious?

Yes, animals can be funny or hilarious, especially in unexpected or playful situations.

Does hilarious humor always have to be loud?

Hilarious humor often results in loud laughter, but the humor itself doesn't have to be loud.

Can a person be naturally hilarious?

Yes, some people have a natural talent for being hilarious.

Do cultural differences impact what is considered funny or hilarious?

Yes, cultural differences can greatly influence what is considered funny or hilarious.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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