My daughter was laughing at me for reading the dictionary and I desperately needed to rescue myself. So I challenged her to guess how many words starting with fun were really fun and how many were not. For you, my fellow dictionary readers, I present the results. Please note that this will only work for the Concise Macquarie Dictionary, which was the particular book that I was enjoying.
We only count the non-compound words and find that fun words are not at all that much fun. There are 25 fun words listed in my Macquarie that start with ‘fun’. There are six words that are no fun at all: fundament, fundamentalism, funeral, funereal, fungicide & funk.
There are a lot of neutral words (thirteen): function, functional, functionalism, functionary, fund, fundamental, fundus, fungi, fungible, fungoid, fungus, funicular, & funnel. These excite no passions at all.
But once the survey is complete there are only six really fun words: fun, funambulist, funfair, funky, funnies, & funny.
This interpretation would be different if undertaken by a specialist. An economist might find fungible (where one unit or portion of something can be replaced by another) and fund to be quite exhilarating. A mycologist may find fungus and fungi exciting and a fungoid (fungus-like) absolutely distracting. Anatomists might find the fundament (the anus) and fundus (the base of an animal organ) the sort of words to raise their passions. However, we, as laypeople, shall remain un-emotional about them.
The fun words are undisputable: the funambulist, the tightrope walker, is fun and being funky is certainly not dull; I would spend time reading funnies (comic strips) if I didn’t have my dictionaries; and there is no doubt that a funfair is enjoyable.
Neither is there any dispute about the un-fun words. The fundament becomes, somehow – with -al and -ism added, religious fanaticism, a very serious business. There is very little fun at a funeral nor at something that is funereal (funeral-like). Fungicide (fungus killer) would send any mushroom into a funk (I am cheating a bit here counting funk as a black mood and not a bit of soul music but it has its representative in funky).
Statistically, fun has let us down. Only 24 per cent of fun words are actually happy words, the remainder, 76 per cent are just no fun whatsoever. This is, of course, what you learn when you read the dictionary!