- REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
There’s a special glee that comes from getting a really nerdy joke.
You feel both smart and dorky at the same time.
Redditors took turns sharing their own favorite intellectual jokes and we’ve gathered our favorites here.
From chemistry to art to music, these are the jokes you can pull out at your next dinner party – if you want to hear a bemused groan from the crowd.
Time to test your knowledge, though don’t worry, there’s an explanation if you don’t get it.
Here are 17 of the best jokes for smart people:
Dylan Love contributed to an earlier version of this post.
A photon is going through airport security. The TSA agent asks if he has any luggage. The photon says, “No, I’m traveling light.”
- Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
It’s funny because: “Traveling light” is a turn of phrase used to indicate traveling without much (or any) luggage. In science, a photon is a particle of light (almost always moving).
It’s on this list because: Air travel!
It’s funny because: Only a pretentious person whose daily life doesn’t require French would actually say “moi” and mean it.
It’s in this list because: Clocking in at two words, it’s the shortest joke in the English language.
A logician’s wife is having a baby. The doctor immediately hands the newborn to the dad. The wife says, “Is it a boy or a girl?” The logician says, “Yes.”
- Nestor Bandrivskyy/Shutterstock
It’s funny because: Processing that question through Boolean logic, “yes” is technically correct. How would you answer if the question were “Is it a boy AND a girl?”
It’s on this list because: Logicians don’t get enough love.
How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? Ask them to pronounce “unionized.”
- Joe Raedle/Getty
It’s funny because: A more labor-conscious plumber would pronounce the word as “yoon-yun-ized.” A chemist would probably say “un-eye-on-ized.”
It’s on this list because: What other joke can simultaneously address the removal of charged particles from an atom as well as the organization of workers trying to achieve shared goals?
Two women walk into a bar and talk about the Bechdel test.
It’s funny because: The Bechdel test is a measure of gender equality in the media. A piece of media is considered to pass the test if it includes at least two women who talk to each other about something besides men. This joke passes the test.
It’s on this list because: The media is self-referential.
Heard about that new band called 1023 MB? They haven’t had any gigs yet.
It’s funny because: A gigabyte is a measure of data equal to 1,024 MB. As you can see, the band is only 1,023 MB – they haven’t had any “gigs” yet.
It’s on this list because: A lot of people probably thought one GB is a nice, round 1,000 MB.
Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. A cop pulls him over and says “Do you have any idea how fast you were going back there?” Heisenberg says, “No, but I knew where I was.”
It’s funny because: Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist and one of the key figures in quantum theory. His famous “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” states that we can know either where a quantum particle is or how fast it’s moving, but it’s impossible to know both at the same time.
It’s on this list because: Heisenberg’s life was amazing. Seriously.
C, Eb, and G walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, no minors.”
- Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
It’s funny because: C, Eb, and G are the musical notes that constitute a C minor chord.
It’s on this list because: The relationship between a major chord and its relative minor is pretty cool.
First Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t win. Second Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t break even. Third Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t stop playing.
It’s funny because: It’s an absolute reductionist take on the real laws of thermodynamics, and the language is such that it implies life isn’t worth living. In plain terms, the laws of thermodynamics are: Energy can’t be created or destroyed, things tend to move from order to disorder, and the lower the temperature drops, the more disorderly things become.
It’s in this list because: It’s actually an accurate take on thermodynamics.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.
It’s funny because: You were expecting the word “problem,” but the joke-teller replaced it with “precipitate,” which is the solid that forms in a solution of liquid after a chemical reaction has taken place.
It’s on this list because: Chemists are hard enough to understand as it is. Now you have a slight edge.
A linguistics professor says during a lecture that, “In English, a double negative forms a positive. But in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, in no language in the world can a double positive form a negative.” But then a voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”
It’s funny because: “Yeah” and “right” are technically affirmative words, but put these two positives together and you get an ultra-sarcastic, “Yeah, right.”
It’s on this list because: It’s totally true.
This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
- Evening Standard/Getty Images
It’s funny because: This phrase, with varying versions often attributed to Winston Churchill, is a response to the famous rule in English that a sentence isn’t supposed to end in a preposition. In constructing the sentence this way, the speaker is technically correct, but it’s an incredibly awkward way to communicate.
It’s on this list because: Language is complicated. Let’s mock it.
How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A fish.
- Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty
It’s funny because: Surrealism is an movement all about creating weird illogical art. As this joke makes no sense, it is itself a surrealist work.
It’s on this list because: Banana.
Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Philip Glass.
- Wikimedia Commons
It’s funny because: Philip Glass is an American composer whose music is often described as minimalist and repetitive.
It’s on this list because: You’ve very likely seen a few movies he scored.
What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac do at night? He stays up wondering if there really is a dog.
It’s funny because: This poor afflicted soul’s dyslexia has caused him to confuse “God” with “dog.” His agnosticism forces him to wrestle with “dog’s” existence. And his insomnia has him losing sleep over it.
It’s on this list because: You never know someone’s struggle.
Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?
- Ryan Baumann/Flickr
It’s funny because:In philosophy, solipsism is the idea that the only thing you can be sure exists is your own mind.
It’s on this list because: When it comes down to it, what can we really know about existence outside ourselves? Also, we’re probably living in a computer simulation.
A Roman walks into a bar and asks for a martinus. “You mean martini?” the bartender asks. The Roman replies, “Slow down there! I’ll let you know when I want more.”
- Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images
It’s funny because: In Latin, which the Romans spoke, the suffix “us” is singular, while the suffix “i” is plural. So the Roman thinks that martini implies he’s ordering more than one! Silly Roman.
It’s on this list because: Latin needs all the help it can get staying alive.