Mighty Red Pen

September 22, 2008

Fun, funner, funnest

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Mad marketing — mighty red pen @ 6:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

Chris writes of an ad slogan for the iPod touch, “I know this is an intentional misuse, but I just have to bring it to your attention.” See for yourself:

Okay, so here’s the deal: in an ideal world, we’d want most fun rather than funnest (there is a good discussion of this at World Wide Words). And yet, because it’s advertising, I’m inclined to consider it through a slightly different lens. Funnest is lazy, light-hearted, casual. It evokes a certain feeling: we’re having so much fun when we use our iPods, we don’t really care about grammar (I know, it’s hard to imagine).

So do I love it? No. Nor do I hate it. For a second opinion, check out Grammar Girl. What about you: does this kind of intentional misuse cause you to grit your teeth, or can you grin and bear it?



  1. How do we really know it’s intentional?

    Comment by Kasey — September 23, 2008 @ 8:00 am | Reply

  2. On the one hand, I don’t really care. But on the other hand, it just makes it more likely that this will eventually become a real word and thwart all previous knowledge on the matter of adjectives.

    Comment by tk. — September 23, 2008 @ 10:10 am | Reply

  3. I would let it pass (with a groan, perhaps) in verbal form on a commercial. But in print, it just looks stupid. It makes me grit my teeth and think “not funnest at all” as I reach for a pain killer.

    Comment by David — September 24, 2008 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  4. I can’t believe I’m going to write this, but I would let it pass. As long as we all know our rules, we can purposefully misuse them at times.

    Comment by Mr. MRP — September 24, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  5. While looking to see whether ‘funnest’ was in my OED, I stumbled across the (apparently American English) verb ‘to fun’. Really? Are you funning me, or what?

    Comment by JD — September 26, 2008 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  6. As a student of language and with a Bachelor’s in something related to English, I think it’s brilliant. Of course I’ve been a champion of ‘funner’ and ‘funnest’ for the last decade. When I first saw the iPod commercial, I was pretty excited and firmly believe that both words will be in Webster’s within the next couple years. This is the catalyst.

    Comment by b4rton — November 26, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  7. I have a Webster’s dictionary, copyright 1991 and if you look up the word fun, ..you will also find it listed as an adjective with funner, and funnest.

    Comment by dacazano — January 1, 2009 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  8. @dacazano, Yes, but is it good usage? As I wrote, I give it a pass in this case, but you might be interested in this from the American Heritage Book of English Usage: “This use of fun as an inflected adjective (fun, funner, funnest) became popular in the 1950s and 1960s and has persisted. . . . The day will no doubt come when this use of fun is normal; yet at present the use of fun to modify nouns has a facetious or an informal tone. You should avoid it where a light tone would be inappropriate.”

    Comment by mighty red pen — January 2, 2009 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  9. I am a Language Arts graduate and I had a firm professor say that if a word is one syllable then you should use -er and -est on the ends. We had a discussion on the word “fun” and he disagrees with “funner” but “funnest” is by far okay…I agree w/ him.

    Comment by mmathine — June 6, 2009 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

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