I can't understand this:

How do you catch a tame rabbit?
The tame way

I found that tame means:

not dangerous or frightened of people; domesticated.

But how does this fit into the joke?

6 Answers 6


I suspect this joke is intended to follow one about catching a wild rabbit. Therefore, it's a wordplay based on lisping "the same way [as you catch a wild rabbit]" as "the tame way".

It's not really all that funny, so don't worry about it.

  • 1
    Another word request: what do you call something that is intended as a joke, but isn't funny?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 0:29
  • "An unfunny joke" works. A "dud" is fine in the right context where it's clear you're referring to the joke. A "lame joke" is also possible if it was sorta kinda halfway funny. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 0:31
  • Sure, but what I meant was a single word, perhaps newly coined, to unambiguously denote things that would have been jokes if only they were funny. Dud has a more general meaning, "unfunny joke" seems like a contradiction in terms...
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 6:42
  • @jamesqf: As far as I know, no such word exists, although you can look on ELL and see if I'm wrong. "Unfunny joke" is the closest. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 16:38
  • I would call it a "A bad joke." Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 20:24

Half the joke is missing:

Q: How do you catch a wild rabbit?

A: Dress in orange and make a noise like a carrot.

It is "funny" because carrots don't make noise, and it results in a goofy mental image.

Now follow up with the joke in the question:

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?

A: The tame way.

It is "funny" because the listener is expecting an answer like the answer to the first joke — some sort of goofy visual imagery. Instead, they are given a little bit of wordplay, as described in other answers. The resulting cognitive dissonance provides hours of entertainment. (The unexpected answer is funny.)

  • 5
    The first part of the joke as I've heard it is "How do you catch a unique rabbit?" [You 'neak up on it]. Thus, both parts of the joke invoke mispronouncing "s".
    – supercat
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 22:00

I suspect the joke assumes knowledge of the Looney Tunes character Tweety Bird, and maybe Bugs Bunny. Tweety pronounces 's' sounds as 't', so if you asked Tweety how to catch a tame rabbit (vs catching Bugs Bunny, maybe), he would say 'The same way,' and it would sound like 'The tame way.'

Or maybe I'm reaching too hard. As Nathan Tuggy said, not all that funny.


This joke is based on the way that tame and same sound or more specifally the fact that they sound similar.

This joke is not actually a joke but more of a play on words.


Q. How do you catch a rabbit?
A. You sneak up on it

Q. How do you catch a unique rabbit?
A. Unique up on it

Q. How do you catch a tame rabbit?
A. The tame way, unique up on it.

I tend to regard the joke as a form of anti-humor. There's a little bit of word play going on, using homonyms to create something that is nonsense but sounds like something meaningful, and therein lies the amusement. It's along the same lines as a more famous type of anti-joke:

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To get to the other side

Q. Why did the chicken cross the playground?
A. To get to the other slide

Q. Why did the chicken cross the ocean?
A. To get to the other tide

And there are many more of these kinds of jokes. Sometimes they take on a cultural value where people entertain each other by taking turns reciting them. They were all quite popular at my preschool.


It's actually part of a joke progression.. "How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it..". "How do you catch a tame rabbit? The tame way... "

  • 3
    Welcome to ELL Sparky - keep in mind that the folks reading your answer may not be fluent in English and why this is a joke may not be apparent to them. Your answer would be more helpful if it explained how "tame" fits into the joke.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 22:00

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