Use the word deadpan to describe someone who uses no expression when speaking, such as the deadpan way some comedians deliver even their funniest jokes — which can make them even funnier.

Deadpan dates to 1928, when pan was slang for "face." So if you seem to have a "dead face" as you say something, it means your face looks very blank — no energy or animation. Deadpan is associated with sarcasm, and like sarcasm, if you use it for comic effect, there's a risk your audience won't pick up on it. Nevertheless, deadpan humor can be funny and popular — witness the success of deadpan humor in the sitcom Seinfeld.

Definitions of deadpan
  1. adjective
    deliberately impassive in manner
    deadpan humor”
    synonyms: expressionless, impassive, poker-faced, unexpressive
    incommunicative, uncommunicative
    not inclined to talk or give information or express opinions
  2. verb
    speak in a deliberately impassive or serious manner
    see moresee less
    type of:
    mouth, speak, talk, utter, verbalise, verbalize
    express in speech
  3. adverb
    without betraying any feeling
    “she told the joke deadpan
Word Family

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