Skip to main content
Select Source:

funny bone

funny bone Usually applied to the projection, the olecranon, at the back of the elbow, which is the upper end of the ulna, one of the two forearm bones. On the inner side of this is a smaller protuberance, the medial epicondyle of the humerus — the bone of the upper arm. The ulnar nerve runs in a groove on the back of the epicondyle, between this and the olecranon. The nerve can be felt and rolled under the fingers, most easily when the elbow is at a right angle, and because it is near the surface it can be painfully tweaked if the inner side of the elbow hits a hard surface. The sensation is funny only in the sense of peculiar. (Tempting though it be, there is apparently no pun intended to link it to the humerus — whose name is Latin for shoulder, referring to its upper end.)

Stuart Judge


See elbow; skeleton.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"funny bone." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"funny bone." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/funny-bone

"funny bone." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/funny-bone

funny bone

funny bone, highly sensitive area at the back of the elbow where the ulnar nerve passes close to the surface of the skin in a groove between end prominences of the humerus (the upper arm bone) and the ulna (the large forearm bone). A blow to the area causes the nerve to compress against bone, producing a characteristic tingling in the forearm and the last two fingers.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"funny bone." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"funny bone." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/funny-bone

"funny bone." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/funny-bone

funny bone

fun·ny bone • n. inf. the part of the elbow over which the ulnar nerve passes. A knock on the funny bone may cause numbness and pain along the forearm and hand. ∎  a person's sense of humor, as located in an imaginary physical organ: photographs to jostle the mind and the funny bone.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"funny bone." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"funny bone." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/funny-bone

"funny bone." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/funny-bone