I came across the word "punchline", so I looked up its meaning in the dictionary http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/punchline. Nevertheless, there seems no such word in current usage. Thus, I began to wonder whether it is usual in modern English? Then, I came across this word again in this dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=punchline, and I am wondering whether the explanation is correct?

  • 1
    Yes, the definition in the urban dictionary is correct and yes it is in current and widespread use today. What makes you say it's not in current usage? It's usage is, in fact, increasing: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Jim
    Sep 13, 2014 at 3:45
  • @Jim: Thank you so much, and what makes me say it's not in current usage is I being a non-native English speaker :)
    – Yes
    Sep 13, 2014 at 3:46
  • 1
    Search by "punch line" and you will find lots of references, for ex. punch line in OneLook Dictionary Search.
    – user3169
    Sep 13, 2014 at 3:49
  • Thanks so much. Apparently I have not digged deeply enough.
    – Yes
    Sep 13, 2014 at 3:54
  • You can check a freely available corpus such as COCA. You'll find that it's in use, both with and without a space.
    – user230
    Sep 13, 2014 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


It's in wide usage, although sometimes it's spelled as "punch line", but "punchline" is very common too. Some recent headlines:

In all three cases the definition means "the point of a joke or story; the part that makes it funny or otherwise provides an essential element":

  • Reality TV is the source of the humor in the advertising campaign.
  • The opinion writer believes Obama's dignity suffered by trivializing it as a joke.
  • It may be tough for foreign audiences to find the punchline in cross-language jokes.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .