What is the world's oldest joke? I mean the earliest known story, set of affairs, or action that people spread to other people in order to cause the receivers to be amused.


1 Answer 1


According to Paul McDonald at the University of Wolverhampton, it's this 3900-year-old one, from 1900BC in Sumeria:

Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.

(I don't get it either!)

  • 14
    Maybe it's a pun that has been lost in translation :)
    – jpa
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 6:25
  • 5
    I love how humans were so similar back then. Almost 4000 years later and we still find fart jokes funny.
    – Pyritie
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 13:03
  • 11
    Can we get a Sumerian to chime in here? I'm curious what this farting nonsense means Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 17:36
  • 13
    I think the joke is about the difference between girlfriends and wives. When you're courting, the girl will try to make the best impression. Once you're married, the wife doesn't have to pretend any more. It's kind of the opposite of the meme @1006a suggests.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 22:36
  • 4
    Not sure if this is how others are reading it, but I interpret this as "of course every young woman has farted in her husband's lap—we just pretend they don't". That's the joke.
    – user428517
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 23:39

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