Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A blank, expressionless face.
  • n. A person, especially a performer, who has or assumes a blank expression.
  • adj. Impassively matter-of-fact, as in style, behavior, or expression: deadpan delivery of the joke.
  • adv. With a blank, expressionless face.
  • transitive v. To express in an impassive, matter-of-fact way.
  • intransitive v. To express oneself in an impassive, matter-of-fact way.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Deliberately impassive or expressionless (as a face or look).
  • adj. Having such a face or look (as a person).
  • adj. Impassive (as behaviour or speech).
  • n. A style of comedic delivery in which something humourous is said or done while not exhibiting a change in emotion or facial expression.
  • v. To express (oneself) in an impassive or expressionless manner.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. deliberately impassive in manner
  • adv. without betraying any feeling

Etymologies

dead +‎ pan (“face”) (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • HU for "deadpan" is "fapofa" (wooden face)

    August 1, 2012

  • Who shot 'im?

    March 4, 2010

  • today itself I ran across this meaning of 'pan' in the Canterbury Tales!

    "...'who shall yeve a lovere any lawe?'
    Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan" (1164-65)

    March 4, 2010

  • "“Deadpan” (also spelled “dead pan” and “dead­-pan”) actually began life as a theatrical term, according to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang.

    The term, which refers to a blank, impassive expression¸ can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb."
    from commentary on the history of deadpan

    March 4, 2010

  • "The term "deadpan" first emerged as an adjective or adverb in the 1920s, as a compound word combining "dead" and "pan" (a slang term for the face). It was first recorded as a noun in Vanity Fair in 1927; a dead pan was thus 'a face or facial expression displaying no emotion, animation, or humor'. The verb deadpan 'to speak, act, or utter in a deadpan manner; to maintain a dead pan' arose by the early 1940s, apparently as a journalistic coinage rather than a theatrical one.

    It must be noted that today its use is especially common in humour from the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It is also very appreciated in France, by the influence of the "esprit" (dry-humour mostly). Many popular American sitcoms also used deadpan expressions, most notably Friends and Seinfeld. Dry humor is often confused with highbrow or egghead humor. Although these forms of humor are often dry, the term dry humor actually only refers to the method of delivery, not necessarily the content." – Etymology of "deadpan" from the Reference.com

    July 31, 2008

  • "A woodland deity has met his end", said Tom with a deadpan expression.

    December 8, 2007