What Does "Facetious" Mean?

If you've never encountered the word "facetious," it would be impossible to work out its meaning by looking at its root. You would be able to determine that it is an adjective from the "-ious" suffix, but that is as far as you would get. "Facetious" has nothing to do with "facets" (i.e., aspects or features) or "faces" (i.e., the fronts of our heads).

Facetious best translates as "playfully funny."

The word "facetious" most commonly features in the term "Don't be facetious!", which is usually a reprimand to someone's funny, but slightly inappropriate, comment.
  • Jack: We could always use your cake to block the hole in the fence.
  • Jill: Don't be facetious!

How to Pronounce "Facetious"

Listen to how "Facetious" is pronounced: Note that it is stressed on the second syllable (faSEEshuss).

The Origin of Facetious

The word "facetious" derives from the Latin "facetia" (meaning jest or witticism). This was adopted by the French language, where it became "facetieux," before appearing as "facetious" in English in the latter half of the 16th century.

Facetious vs Sarcastic

The attacking element of any facetious comment is captured in the word "playfully," and this is how "facetious" differs from "sarcastic." A sarcastic comment is designed to attack. It is deliberately biting, malicious, or hurtful. A facetious comment, on the other hand, is likely to include a poke a someone, but the nature of that poke is playful not hurtful.
  • Jill: The wind has made a mess of my hair.
  • Jack: I didn't notice the difference.
  • Jill: Don't be facetious, Jack.
  • Dick: The frizz hides your alopecia.
  • Jill: Don't be sarcastic, Dick.
What does facetious mean?

Great Tip for Spelling "Facetious"

"Facetious" contains one of each of the five vowels. Rather helpfully, they are in order (aeiou)! That is the word's greatest facet!

So, write down the word "facet," add the remaining vowels in order ("iou"), and pop an "s" on the end. Done.

Common misspellings include:
  • facicious wrong cross, facecious wrong cross, facitious wrong cross
Of interest, the word "abstemious" (indulging very moderately in something) is another word that contains all five vowels in order.

Common Terms with "Facetious"

facetious charactera person who provides funny often satirical commentary on events to entertain or subtly critique
facetious tonea talking style that creates a light-hearted, entertaining atmosphere, even when discussing serious topics
facetious remark or commenta witticism often designed to tackle a serious matter with humour or lack of due respect
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.