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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
dry/deadpan humour (=when someone makes it seem as if they are being serious, but really they are being funny)
▪ His serious demeanour lends itself to deadpan humour.
▪ "We're out of gas, so I guess you'll have to walk home," he said, giving me a deadpan expression.
▪ a deadpan expression
▪ Garcia turns in another soulful-eyed but deadpan performance.
▪ The third lady who wants more than lunch is Bowles, who describes their flight from convention in deadpan style.
▪ This, and the fact that Mike was a competitor, seemed to get Dmitri edgy: his face went entirely deadpan.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1928, from dead (adj.) + pan (n.) in slang sense of "face."

  1. 1 Deliberately impassive or expressionless (''as'' a face or look). 2 Having such a face or look (''as'' a person). 3 Impassive (''as'' behaviour or speech). n. A style of comedic delivery in which something humourous is said or done while not exhibiting a change in emotion or facial expression. v

  2. To express (oneself) in an impassive or expressionless manner.

  1. adj. deliberately impassive in manner; "deadpan humor"; "his face remained expressionless as the verdict was read" [syn: expressionless, impassive, poker-faced, unexpressive]

  2. adv. without betraying any feeling; "she told the joke deadpan"


Deadpan is an adjective describing the act of deliberately displaying a lack of or no emotion. It is commonly a form of comedic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language to contrast with the ridiculousness of the subject matter. This delivery is also called dry humor or dry wit when the intent, but not the presentation, is humorous, blunt, sarcastic, laconic, or apparently unintentional.

Usage examples of "deadpan".

The steno nun caught up with her note taking and Millard and Sears eyeballed the stiff deadpan while Lee stared at the floor, wiping sweat from his brow.

It clarified her vision of things, to be able to defend him to herself, this man who would sit with her in a restaurant on a redwood deck and recount in earnest deadpan detail the methods and bents, the hand-grips, of some woman he'd lately spent a night with.

Tweaks: "smut books," "Chris Bergeron," "this little twist Daryl"--the fruit deadpanned him cold.

The anchor man was the expedition's photographer, Omar Woodson, as true a deadpan character as Pitt had ever seen and who genuinely appeared bored by the whole show.

Prescott gave me back the deadpan look, but buried beneath it were traces of the discomfort that I needed to see to stop me reaching across the cab and smashing her nose bone up into her brain with one stiffened hand.

He pushed the buzzer beside Miss Huntress' door and Big Ben chimed inside and the door opened and I was looking at a deadpan in a derby hat and a dinner coat.

And similarly, the deadpan blandness with which Dean in the role of Matt Helm tosses off dumb one-liners in the face of imminent death nullifies all the old claims for tragic dignity, or for high seriousness in art.

Kyle was back to the deadpan look, superserious, which I actually prefer.

They'd cultivated deadpan expressions, unsyncopated speech rhythms, monotone voices.