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a laughing stock

a person who appears silly


laughing stock = Zielscheibe des Spottes, Witzfigur —— to be the laughing-stock = Gegenstand des Gelächters sein —— to become a common laughing-stock = sich lächerlich machen



“Brexit vote is making UK a LAUGHING STOCK abroad.”

Frances Perraudin - The Guardian

“Left-of-centre politicians and newspapers in Italy say Berlusconi has made the country a LAUGHING STOCK because of what they say is his disgraceful behaviour.”

BBC News

Did you

laughing stock
noun phrase

- an object of ridicule

- someone or something which seems stupid or silly, especially by trying to be serious or important and not succeeding

Merriam-Webster / Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


Early 16th century, often linked with the practice of putting people into “stocks” as a punishment. Victims were held by having their ankles, and occasionally the wrists too, trapped in holes between two sliding boards.

Shakespeare used the phrase in the The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, scene 1: “Pray you let us not be laughing-stocks to other men’s humours…”

More recently, it became commonplace at school fairs and charity events to put volunteers into stocks and to throw wet sponges at them. This is for humorous effect of course and no doubt added to the idea that ‘laughing-stock’ originated this way.


-  a barrel of laughs = a person or source of a lot of fun or amusement (Every time we’re with Jennifer, she’s a barrel of laughs!)

-  a horse laugh = sarcastic laugh (Bob has a horse laugh. It’s actually quite annoying.)

- a belly laugh = deep, uncontrolled, hearty laugh (My Dad always belly laughed at my jokes.)

- Who laughs last laughs longest = when someone does something not nice to you, they may feel good, but you will feel better by winning in the end (James was rather mean, but don’t worry, who laughs last, laughs longest.)

- Man plans and God laughs = imperfect humans plans are never guaranteed to work out (I know you put your heart into the campaign,… I console myself with 'Man plans and God laughs'.)


Aunt Sally, babe in the woods, butt of jokes, cat’s-paw, everybody’s fool, fall guy, figure of fun, LAUGHING STOCK, muggins, object of derision

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Falling asleep during virtual meetings is a good way to become a LAUGHING STOCK.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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