Word Wednesday – VI

Well, I had to turn to the internet to help find a word for this week. I still have my list but none of them felt right today. Sometimes that’s just the way words work, at least for me. So I went on a word hunt to remind me of neat words I liked that I don’t see used very often. I was reading a thread on Reddit about words to use when playing Scrabble – particularly when you have a lot of vowels in hand. That’s when the idea came to me.

It’s not a word I’ve ever played in Scrabble but it is a word I’ve loved because it’s the shortest word possible with ALL the vowels (a,e,i,o,u,y) in  alphabetical order. There are other words with the 5 main vowels in order – but I wanted to include the often neglected y in my word. As a note, the shortest word that contains all of the vowels in alphabetical order (excluding y) is aerious which means “airy”.  There are other words that contain the 5 vowels in alphabetical order but I’ll let you find them for yourself. It behooves me right now to stop with the Perendination (yeah, I couldn’t resist that set up) and get down to brass tacks to reveal today’s word without further ado.



Today’s word is facetiously, meaning “lacking serious intent” or “concerning something non essential” and “not meant to be taken seriously or literally”.  As in “the man facetiously said that he was the Queen of England”. In recent years, the word has taken on a tone that deviates a little from this definition – one of deliberately inappropriate humour about a subject. Take this e-card from someecards as an example:



It’s a fun word to have in your back pocket and I’m sure one day it will come in handy when I’m playing Scrabble. I’m back to the Latin origins with this one, though it’s via French. It’s one of my favourite Latin roots too – Facetus – an adjective meaning witty, elegant, fine, or courteous. From Facetus we jump to the noun facetia meaning jest, witticism, or humourous remark. That’s it for the Latin, but French gave us facétieux meaning “a joke”. From there it wasn’t a huge jump for the English to coin facetiously in the late 1500s.  (What can I say? I have a thing for old words)

Facetiously: (fuhsee-shuh s ly) Adverb

i) Meant to be humourous or funny – not meant to be taken seriously

ii) In a manner that threats serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour.


So the next time you feel like being deliberately silly on a serious issue, go ahead – you’ll be treating it facetiously! (Of course there are some issues that shouldn’t be treated facetiously, but I trust you will know where to draw the line.

By koalateagirl

Jenn Annis is a writer, editor, historian, special needs advocate, and tireless defender of the Oxford comma. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


  1. I love this word. It is a very good word for kids to know. 🙂

    Especially kids who might not understand sarcasm. Especially when it is coming from teachers (who should use it very rarely, imnsho).

    So, for instance, knowing that your Social Studies teacher was speaking facetiously when she said you had to read 5 chapters and write a report by tomorrow, thusly avoiding extreme panic.

    Great post!

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