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Both lustig and komisch can be translated into English as "funny". Are there instances where you would use one word and not the other?

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"Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they reckon they taste funny." So, komisch has the same meaning as funny in English, amusing or strange. –  Em1 Jan 20 at 16:14
    
@Em1 As in German, English has a funny that means odd and a funny that means amusing as well. –  Dustin Jan 21 at 0:20
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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Yes, there are.

"Komisch" can also mean "odd", "weird", "strange" (and not in a good way):

Die Milch schmeckt komisch. Kipp sie weg!

Der Autoschlüssel ist weg. Komisch, gestern war er noch da.

Halt Dich von dem Kerl fern, das ist ein ganz komischer Typ.

In none of these cases would "lustig" be an option.

There are cases where "komisch" and "lustig" can both be used, but mean different things:

ein lustiger Film / ein komischer Film

a funny movie / an odd movie

ein lustiger Kerl / ein komischer Kerl

a funny guy / a weird guy

They can be interchangeable:

Findest Du es etwa lustig / komisch, jemandem den Stuhl unterm Hintern wegzuziehen?


Without being able to offer conclusive proof, I'd say the meaning "odd" for "komisch" seems more prevalent than the meaning "funny".

"Lustig" means "funny" in the vast majority of cases. I've occasionally heard it used in the sense of "weird", but then it's with MUCH more positive connotation than "komisch".

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Meine Deutschlehrer haben mir eingebläut, dass es dann immer "seltsam" heißen muss, nicht "komisch", aber der empirische Sprachgebrauch gibt ihnen Unrecht. Es wäre ein Kampf gegen Windmühlen. Wer einen pingeligen Sprachgebrauch sich aneignen will, dem sei dies jedenfalls ans Herz gelegt. –  user unknown Jan 22 at 4:09
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According to Duden (komisch, lustig) they are synonyms.

In most cases you will be able to use them interchangeably.

However, komisch also has the meaning:

sonderbar, seltsam; mit jemandes Vorstellungen, Erwartungen nicht in Einklang zu bringen

which can be translated as odd, curious or strange. In this case, you wouldn't use lustig.

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would not translate as curious, which is more of "neugierig" –  Vogel612 Jan 20 at 19:14
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I disagree... you should stay away from "komisch" in sense of "funny" as it will mostly be understood as strange. So ... not interchangeable in most cases –  Emanuel Jan 20 at 19:25
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komisch - can also mean strange or weird, and is often used in that context.

If you think about it these two concepts are not far apart: a funny situation can often arise from being somewhat strange. So perhaps that is how komisch grew to also mean funny (which is also totally correct).

Coming from a native german speaker, I have no knowledge of etymology, so someone might correct me.

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Without having checked that I always thought komisch was somehow etymologically related to Komödie and a well-established and rather old loanword. So, I would suppose the change in meaning should have been the other way around, first "funny" then "strange". –  fifaltra Jan 20 at 23:25
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"Komisch" is used almost always in terms of weird.

If you mean positive funny you can use "witzig" or "lustig".

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"komisch" can also mean strange or curious. "lustig" is always funny.

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