I vaguely remember in the past I heard a father said with a smile, "My stupid boy/son, it is a cat, not a dog." In this context, the father was not scolding his son. It's spoken in a friendly way.

Likewise, I went to grab coffee with my little brother. My order number was 50. My brother said "oh jeez, a cup of coffee is 50 dollars, so expensive!" I chuckled and in a friendly way taught him, "_____, the price is here, $5."

So what will I address him here? stupid/fool brother, dumb/silly boy?

If any of these words are still considered offensive to my brother, when I describe this story to my friends, I guess I'm free to use a slightly offensive words, but still in a friendly way. Would these words sensible?

Some untrustworthy articles mentioned "silly goose" and "goofball". Would they work?

  • 1
    stupid and dumb are insulting/foolish and silly, not so much. That said, most brothers might call each other stupid or dumb but only parents would say silly or foolish because boys will be boys. In the States, brothers say Hey stupid or Hey dummy to each other a lot. When the parents hear that, they might tell them not to talk that way. Silly goose is usually by a parent for a daughter.
    – Lambie
    Feb 19 at 15:51
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    This seems an unlikely situation for a Learner of English to be in. When you say "my father said..." are you translating? I don't think there is a "correct" answer, too much depends on you relationship to your brother, your relationship to your friends, your brother's relationship to your friends, your general personality and way of speaking. You are free to describe your brother as you wish. But if you don't want to insult him, don't tell the story at all! Anyway, I vote to close.
    – James K
    Feb 19 at 20:28
  • @JamesK I live in the US. Granted, my mother tongue is not English, but I have to use English every day. Assuming it is me who misread, and someone in the coffee shop chuckled and said in a low voice dumb boy, is he insulting me? As you said, it all depends on his general personality and way of speaking.
    – Gqqnbig
    Feb 20 at 1:06
  • Among close friends or family, almost anything that might be insulting if said to a stranger could possibly be used as a friendly joke, but it's entirely a function of interpersonal relationships or a history of in-jokes, not the usage of a particular word. So we can't tell you what word to use with your brother - it's up to you and your brother to develop your own personal history of using words in a friendly way. Feb 23 at 14:42
  • @Gqqnbig - If some one called you dumb boy, they insulted you. If you took no offense, that's your business.
    – EllieK
    Feb 23 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


The word you are looking for is silly. It does not carry the same weight as dummy or stupid. It is more polite and implies a naivete.

You would say to your brother -

Silly, the price here is $5.

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