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 '14 at 16:14
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    @Em1 As in German, English has a funny that means odd and a funny that means amusing as well. – Dustin Jan 21 '14 at 0:20
  • If you mean funny and you say komisch, would it be a bit komisch, not always, but more often.. – user19546 Dec 22 '15 at 15:06

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 '14 at 4:09

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 '14 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 '14 at 19:25
  • Lustig would be Secret Advice Corner for Geheimratsecken, but it is not komisch. – user19546 Dec 22 '15 at 15:11
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    @Vogel612: The English word curious does indeed also cover the meaning of "kurios", which has little to do with the German "neugierig". – O. R. Mapper Apr 23 '18 at 15:03

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 '14 at 23:25

"Komisch" is used almost always in terms of weird.

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

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  • I was wanting to know about witzig too. Is it like the English "witty"? In English, a person or a situation can be funny (the person if they have the ability to make you laugh, and the situation if it makes you laugh), but only a person (or a thing that a person said or wrote) can be witty. – j_random_hacker Aug 19 '14 at 20:27
  • (Also, being witty implies that the person is clever, able to think quickly and speak eloquently... A person can be very funny without being witty at all, and some of the funniest comedians are like this!) – j_random_hacker Aug 19 '14 at 20:30

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

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There's a close parallel with English usage. Lustig is more or less "funny ha ha" while komisch is equivalent to "funny peculiar".

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  • This is little more than a comment in my opinion … – Jan Dec 21 '15 at 23:59
  • Welcome to german.stackexchange :) I have to agree with Jan, this doesn't really add anything that hasn't been said in the other answers, and answers here are typically a bit longer and a bit more detailed. (compare the highest voted answer here) – fifaltra Dec 22 '15 at 1:17

"Komisch" is sometimes translated as "comical," and refers to "funny" in the sense of being strange or "out of whack." It is something you laugh at.

"Lustig" does not translate in "lusty," (a false friend), but it is something that is "funny" in the sense of amusing. It is something you laugh with.

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