The Meaning of Corny: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of corny? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word corny, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word corny mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Collins English Dictionary, and American Heritage, the word corny is an adjective that describes something that is tiresomely simple or sentimental. Or mawkishly old-fashioned. Rarely, the word corny describes something that is actually related to grains of corn or that tastes strongly of malt. Often, the word corny is used to describe a joke. Corny jokes may have pretensions of significance but be in a sense rustic or cliche. Sometimes these have an element of truth, but often they are simply a guilty pleasure or something that makes your cringe. One can add the suffixes er and est to create cornier and corniest. Corny is two syllables – corn-y, and the pronunciation of corny is ˈkȯr-nē.

Many different languages also contain words that mean corny. You may notice that some of these translations look and sound similar to each other. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that have a similar meaning and spelling in different languages. These are usually formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of corny is provided by Word Sense. You could also find translations in a French electronic resource, Italian Dictionary 1st Edition, a German Dictionary from Berlin, Spanish Dictionary, Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary, and more! You can make bookmarks to save for later. Any edition – 12th edition, unabridged 7th edition, unabridged 2nd edition, unabridged 8th edition – it doesn’t matter, it will work!

  •  Dutch: melig‎, sentimenteel‎, oubollig‎, afgezaagd‎
  •  Bulgarian: сантиментален‎
  •  Arabic: ثَقِيل الظَِلّ‎, سَخِيف‎
  •  French: dégoulinant‎ (masc.), kitsch‎ (masc.), sirupeux‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: cursi‎
  •  Italian: sdolcinato‎
  •  Russian: сентиментальный‎, слащавый‎
  •  Norwegian: kårny‎
  •  Greek: σαχλός‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: meloso‎ (masc.), piegas‎, brega‎

See if you can figure out what languages the below words are in!

Je sais que ça paraît bébette, blöd, larvig, kitschig, sentimental všední, adî 了無新意的 заяложений, banal ที่ล้าสมัย bayat, billig, forslitt, afgesaag مُبتَذَل, trito ありきたりの 진부한 nuvalkiotas, obilan žitom elcsépelt basi, hindi skrullete banalny قدیمی com barbas, banalus nodrāzts, usang margtugginn, sin gracia, banāls sudah basi, αδιάφορος aburrido, forslidt σαχλός, der witz hat, otřepaný abgedroschen fortærsket.

How can the word corny be used in a sentence?

The word corny can be used in many different ways in the English language. Try making flashcards or quizzes for yourself to remember its definition! Below are several examples of corny.

We enjoyed watching the corny soap opera on Hulu while we were snowed in in New York on winter break from Princeton University. We cuddled up with our throw pillows and enjoyed the raunchiness and gags, laughing at the kind of corny truisms in the dialogue. It appealed to our sentimental soul and sense of humor.

The whole family enjoyed the cheesy dialogue in the corny teenage buddy comedy. The voiceovers of the main character Miller’s voice and of Miller’s son Kurt made us crack up. When there was a family fallout in the film, it appealed to our soft side. The film company knew their target viewer for a movie of this kind, and everything was perfect, from the main cast to the lesser characters and character voices.

The ski bum had a cheesy corporate sponsorship where he had to ski downhill holding nautical-style wood signs. It was the fault of the company that the signs looked so bad. Their corny solution was to repair the broken signs with duct tape.

I couldn’t listen to the corny music a moment longer. Ross would play nothing but showtunes and it was driving me nuts. Every so often, he would chime in with a corny old joke to anger me further.

The corny love scene in the rom-com made me want to vomit. The bouquet of violets and red roses, the low-quality jokes, the horn quartet; it was all too much. 

What is the origin of the word corny?

According to Etymonline, the word corny (adj.) has been used since the 1570s (c16) in a literal sense to describe something literally full of a grain of corn, or maybe even corns of the feet. Chaucer first used it to describe ale and beer in late 14c, maybe to mean malty. This was used in American English slang, first used in Melody Maker. These were also printed on mail-order seed catalogues and known as corn catalogue jokes. It may be like the 1929 (c20) slang corn-fed and have originally meant something that appealed to country folk. One can add the suffixes ly and ness to make the related words corniness (n.) and cornily (adv.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of corny?

Many different words have the same definition as the word corny. These are called synonyms. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms of corny is provided by Thesaurus and could be found in Collins Thesaurus of the English Language.

  • shopworn
  • sentimental
  • melodramatic
  • stupid
  • dull
  • stereotyped
  • trite
  • banal
  • old-fashioned
  • mawkish
  • commonplace
  • feeble
  • stale
  • clichéd
  • tired
  • old hat
  • hackneyed
  • warmed-over

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of corny. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  now
  •  leading-edge
  •  current
  •  accepted
  •  fashionable
  •  cutting-edge
  •  present
  •  hot
  •  swinging
  •  mod
  •  common knowledge
  •  in circulation
  •  on front burner
  •  in the mainstream
  •  prevailing
  •  general
  •  ongoing
  •  instant
  •  widespread
  •  trendy
  •  in progress
  •  customary
  •  popular
  •  topical
  •  rampant
  •  prevalent
  •  state-of-the-art
  •  contemporary
  •  in use
  •  present-day
  •  in vogue
  •  accustomed
  •  modern
  •  fad
  •  afoot
  •  rife
  •  going around
  •  in the news
  •  doing
  •  regnant
  •  in
  •  extant
  •  circulating
  •  existent
  •  ruling
  •  up-to-date

Overall, the word corny means hackneyed or overused. It is usually used to describe a joke.


  1. corny: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. corny | Origin and meaning of corny | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. CURRENT Synonyms: 66 Synonyms & Antonyms for CURRENT | Thesaurus 
  4. CORNY Synonyms: 25 Synonyms & Antonyms for CORNY | Thesaurus 
  5. Corny | Definition of Corny | Merriam-Webster