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Posts Tagged ‘risible’

Risible

Posted by kazvorpal on July 31, 2010


Risible

Laughable, ridiculous

This word once meant “capable of laughter”, like “Man is a risible animal”, but it’s meaning has transferred from active to passive, the same error as using “done” to mean “finished”.

Examples:

The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life.
Samuel Johnson, The Life of Browne (1756)

The adventure of the fulling-mills in Don Quixote, is extremely risible, so is the scene where Sancho, in a dark night, tumbling into a pit, and attaching himself to the side by hand and foot, hangs there in terrible dismay till the morning, when he discovers himself to be within a foot of the bottom.
— Lord Henry Home Kames, Elements of Criticism (1761)

Orwell’s attempt to connect the leader of the Petrograd Soviet to the stalwarts of “Dad’s Army” is nearly, but not quite, risible.
Christopher Hitchens, Why Orwell Matters (2002)

Etymology:

Risus is latin the past tense of ridere, to laugh, so this can be remembered as coming from the same word as “ridicule”, however different it now sounds.

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