Learn English – Difference between “funny” and “strange”/”weird”


I noticed that in English the word funny is sometimes used in the meaning of strange or weird. What's the exact difference?

What is interesting for me is that you have a single word meaning at the same time causing laughter and odd or strange (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/funny). The examples given at Merriam-Webster can then have a funny connotation, such as:

What are you laughing at? There's nothing funny about it.

Could you please give examples where using funny in the meaning of strange is better than strange itself?

I do not find the bare fact a single word having multiple meanings so interesting, every language has a lot of such words. However, for a non-native speaker it is interesting to compare with their own language. And it always shows something about way of thinking of the people who have given the words their meaning. In the case of the word funny it may sound kind of childish to laugh at something I do not fully understand, which is weird to me (and hence I perceive it as causing laughter).

N.B.: I am aware of the question What is the difference between "that's odd", "that' s weird", and "that's strange"?

Best Answer

Funny is often used as a code word. A nice way of saying something before you know something is "off".

So yes funny can mean strange or weird. It can also mean other things too.


  • Dad might say, "I don't want any funny business while we are away." Funny meaning simply bad.
  • "That guy gave me a funny look." Funny meaning weird (usually).
  • "Do you think this bread smells funny." Funny meaning bad or strange.
  • "I think Jeff might be a little funny if you know what I mean." Funny meaning gay. [ To add to this. This can be said in a serious way and can be offensive, however in the usage that is common to me it is said to mock people that say funny to mean gay - if this makes sense. ]
  • "That guy had me rolling. He is one funny dude." Funny meaning humorous.
  • Dad saying to a guy picking up his daughter for a date, "I don't want anything funny going on tonight." Funny meaning sex.

Funny is a funny word. There are probably 10 more variations of ways to use funny but it would be funny for me to keep going on with different definitions... unless I am a little funny.