Joking that your dead grandmother "never looked better" could inject some levity, or frivolity, into her funeral, but your relatives might find your joke inappropriate to the occasion.

Levity literally means "lightness," and it's often an attempt to inject some lightness or humor into an otherwise somber situation. Telling your Aunt Edna a joke while she recuperates from a skiing accident could provide the levity needed to brighten her mood. Yet levity is often used to describe humor that's not appropriate to the occasion, like telling your Aunt the joke, "Two corpses walk into a bar..." after her husband has just died.

Definitions of levity

n a manner lacking seriousness

flippancy, light-mindedness
inappropriate levity
humorousness, jocoseness, jocosity, merriness
the trait of merry joking
Type of:
frivolity, frivolousness
the trait of being frivolous; not serious or sensible

n feeling an inappropriate lack of seriousness

gravity, solemnity
a solemn and dignified feeling
gaiety, playfulness
a festive merry feeling
Type of:
the experiencing of affective and emotional states

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