An in-joke, also known as an inside joke or a private joke, is a joke whose humour is understandable only to members of an ingroup, that is, people who are in a particular social group, occupation, or other community of shared interest. It is an esoteric joke that is humorous only to those who are aware of the circumstances behind it.

In-jokes may exist within a small social clique, such as a group of friends, or extend to an entire profession such as the film or professional wrestling industries, or a particular sporting field or chess team. Ethnic or religious groups usually have their own in-jokes.[1]


  • 1 Philosophy
  • 2 Computer industry
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References


In-jokes are cryptic allusions to shared common ground that act as triggers; only those who have shared the common ground provide an appropriate response.[2]
An in-joke works to build community, sometimes at the expense of outsiders. Part of the power of an in-joke is that its audience knows that there are those who do not understand the joke.[3]

An in-joke can also be used as a subtext, where people in the know may find humour in something not explicitly spoken. They may even apologize for doing so to a rookie, directly or indirectly stating that what they were laughing at was an in-joke.[4]

Computer industry[edit]

In the computer industry some computer programmers hide in-jokes within the code of software in the form of Easter eggs, i.e., hidden content that can be revealed only by following a specific sequence of inputs. Easter eggs is a way for software developers to put their “signature” on the program, especially in video games, originally during times when they received little or no credit from their employer for their work.

The Jargon File is a glossary of hacker slang, much of which is in-jokes or is based on in-jokes.

See also[edit]

  • Shibboleth
  • Fictitious entry
  • Mathematical joke
  • Military humor
  • Order of the Occult Hand
  • Dog-whistle politics


  • ^ Wales Online: “Are the Welsh Really Funny?”, 14 October 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  • ^ Randy Y. Hirokawa and Marshall Scott Poole (1996). Communication and Group Decision Making. Sage Publications Inc. p. 96. ISBN cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  • ^ Paul Brooks Duff (2001). Who Rides the Beast?: Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse. Oxford University Press. p. 81. ISBN 019513835X.
  • ^ Ben Tousey (2003). Acting Your Dreams: Use Acting Techniques to Interpret Your Dreams. Ben Tousey. pp. 118&ndash, 119. ISBN 1-4140-0542-3.
  • Cinema / television /

    • Video mashup
    • Re-cut trailer
    • TV format
    • Found footage
    • Remake
    • Parody film
    • Collage film

    General conceptsRelated artistic

    • Originality
    • Artistic inspiration
    • Afflatus
    • Genius (literature)
    • Genre
    • Genre studies
    • Parody advertisement
    • In-joke
    • Tribute act
    • Fan fiction
    • Simulacrum
    • Archetypal literary criticism
    • Readymades of Marcel Duchamp
    • Anti-art
    • Pop art
    • Aesthetic interpretation
    • Western canon

    Standard blocks
    and forms

    • Jazz standard
    • Stock character
    • Plot device
    • Dramatic structure
    • Formula fiction
    • Monomyth
    • Archetype


    • L.H.O.O.Q. (1919)
    • “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” (1939)
    • Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (2010)


    • Mimesis
    • Dionysian imitatio
    • De Copia Rerum
    • Romantic movement
    • Russian formalism
    • Modernist movement
    • Postmodern movement
    • Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree

    Related non-artistic

    • Cultural appropriation
    • Appropriation in sociology
    • Articulation in sociology
    • Trope (literature)
    • Academic dishonesty
    • Authorship
    • Genius
    • Intellectual property
    • Recontextualisation


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