‘Butt of a Joke’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 10, 2022

People often ask others not to make them the ‘butt of a joke.’ Perhaps someone has asked you this very question. If so, and you are wondering what it means, this guide will help. 

The ‘butt of a joke’ is the target or focus of mockery or the person being ridiculed, bullied, or teased. We explain more about this guide, which contains definitions, meanings, examples, and usage tips. 

What Does ‘Butt of a Joke’ Mean? 

The 'butt of a joke' is the target. If someone calls you the 'butt of a joke,' they mean that you are the focus of the ridiculing.

Definition of ‘Butt’

In this saying, ‘butt’ is derived from the French word ‘but’ used to describe the target of an arrow. The ‘butt’ in ‘butt of a joke’ means the target or aim. 

Definition of ‘Joke’

A ‘joke’ is a story someone tells, typically with a punchline meant to make people laugh. In this saying, ‘joke’ can also mean bullying, ridiculing, mocking, or taunting, often done in a group setting. 

When Do People Say ‘Butt of a Joke?’

People commonly say ‘butt of a joke’ when they ask others to stop making fun of them or when they are defending someone else. For example: 

  • Do not make Jim the 'butt of your jokes.' The last time you made fun of him, he cried for two days.
  • Please stop making me the 'butt of your jokes.' It hurts my feelings.

Origin of this Idiom

‘Butt of a joke’ is likely to have originated shortly after the 13th century when the French used 'but' to describe the aim of an archery arrow. The saying may have even been 'but of a joke' at one time and changed over the centuries to become 'butt' with two t's. 

Other Similar Sayings

Numerous sayings convey the same message as the saying 'butt of a joke.' Here are a few:

  • Laughing at my expense
  • The focus of your bullying
  • Object of derision
  • Laughingstock
  • Village idiot
  • Verbal punching bag

Examples of ‘Butt of a Joke’ 

Now that you know the meaning of this popular phrase, let's take a look at the usage examples below:

  • I am tired of being the 'butt of your jokes.'
  • They ridicule Tom relentlessly. He is always the 'butt of their jokes.'
  • Nancy is not a nice girl, and I am always the 'butt of her jokes.'
  • It is not easy to be the 'butt of a joke.' It makes you feel like everyone is laughing at you.
  • If I am going to be the 'butt of your jokes,' I have no desire to be here. I will go home.
  • The principal has a zero-bullying policy. If you keep making Susie the 'butt of your jokes,' you may get expelled.
  • Do not give them a reason to make fun of you if you do not want to become the 'butt of their jokes.'
  • When I told them I did not know how to send a professional email, I became the 'butt of jokes' for the entire office.

Conversational Example One: 

  • Person One: I am so sorry that the boys were making fun of you today.
  • Person Two: It is okay; I am always the 'butt of their jokes.'

Conversational Example Two: 

  • Person One: Don't you get tired of being the 'butt of their jokes?'
  • Person Two: No, they are just joking around.

Idiom Usage Writing Tips

Well-known figures of speech like 'woot woot,' 'on a side note,' 'canary in a coal mine,' and 'who dares wins' can help you connect with your audience and creatively convey your message. In fact, many journalists and writers utilize idioms to make a point or grab their audience's attention. Here are a few tips to help you use idioms successfully.

  1. Do not use too many idioms.
  2. Do not use sayings your audience will not recognize.
  3. Verify the meaning of terms you are unfamiliar with before using them.
  4. Bookmark  .org for a quick reference to verify idiom meanings.

Final Advice About the Term ‘Butt of a Joke’ 

Knowing how to use idioms correctly will help to prevent you from becoming the 'butt of a joke.' Using figures of speech incorrectly gives your audience the impression that you are unknowledgeable and leaves you open to ridicule. So, do not cut corners. Always verify the meanings of unfamiliar terms before using them, whether you are using them in a professional or personal setting.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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