The researchers combined these factors and devised different equations to predict the "funny factor" of a word. They tested two of their humor equations on a list of more than 45,000 words, then ranked the results. One algorithm decided the top five funniest words on the list were:

  • Upchuck
  • Bubby
  • Boff
  • Wriggly
  • Yaps

The second equation predicted the funniest words as:

  • Slobbering
  • Puking
  • Fuzz
  • Floozy
  • Cackling

Based on the results of both the highest- and lowest-rated words, several patterns emerged.  The least-funny words were those with highly negative and harmful  meanings, words like "attacks" and "harassment."  Connotations of sex, bodily functions, insults, animals and partying were predicted to make us laugh.

Phonemes (word sounds), were an important consideration as well.  Uncommon letters such as k, j and y were consistently rated as funny, with the single most amusing phoneme in English turned being the vowel sound /u/ ("uh"), as in "guffaw."  The nest step?  Westbury and Hollis plan on extending their research into word pairs — "such as muzzy muffin and fizzy turd," and then entire jokes.

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