Printable Version
Pronunciation: hê--ri-ês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Screamingly funny, sidesplittingly amusing. 2. Boisterously happy, rollicking, extremely rowdy but enjoyable.

Notes: This word sounds so Latin that I've used it as the name of a Roman writer in Books that should be Written: History of Roman Comedy by Hilarius. Of course, we have Saint Hilarius, who was the Pope from 461-468! The noun carries with it an adjective, hilarity, and an adverb, hilariously.

In Play: Hilarious isn't just funny, it's superfunny: "Did you see the hilarious outfit Maude Lynn Dresser came to work in this morning? It is off the scale!" It can also refer to an overjoyful mood: "The party had become hilarious from all the singing and drinking by the time the police arrived."

Word History: Today's Good Word came from Latin hilaris (or hilarus), which was borrowed from Greek hilaros "happy, merry, joyful". In the early 19th century hilaris was extended by the suffix -ous. In ancient Rome, Hilaria were holidays, times of celebration. There were public celebrations to honor of Cybele at the vernal equinox, as well as private ones celebrating a marriage or birth of a son. English came by the feminine proper noun Hilary from what remained of Hilaria by the time it reached French. Another word that Latin made from hilaris, is exhilarare "to gladden, make happy", the past participle of which was exhilaratus, upon which the English word exhilarate is based. (Now let's thank Albert Skiles of the city o' Goshen, Arkansas, for tickling our ribs with this funny Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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