World globe
An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options.”


Business Insider logo
The words “Business Insider”.

    * Copyright © 2019 Insider Inc. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our

  • Terms of Service


    Privacy Policy


    Cookies Policy


  • Sitemap
  • Disclaimer
  • Commerce Policy
  • Coupons
  • Made in NYC

  • Stock quotes by

silicon valley HBO There’s a special glee that comes from getting a really nerdy joke.

You feel smart both smart and dorky at the same time.

Redditors took turns sharing their own favorite intellectual jokes, and we’ve gathered our favorites here.

From chemistry to art to music, these are the jokes you can pull out at your next dinner party (if you want to hear a bemused groan from the crowd).

Time to test your knowledge — though there’s an explanation if you don’t get it.

Here are 15 of the best jokes for smart people:

A photon is going through airport security. The TSA agent asks if he has any luggage. The photon says, “No, I’m traveling light.”

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

It’s funny because: “Traveling light” is a turn of phrase used to indicate traveling without much (or any) luggage. In science, a photon is a particle of light (almost always moving).

It’s on this list because: Air travel, amirite?!

Business Insider

It’s funny because: Only a pretentious person whose daily life doesn’t require French would actually say “moi” and mean it.

It’s in this list because: Clocking in at two words, it’s the shortest joke in the English language.

How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? Ask them to pronounce “unionized.”

Walter Hickey / BI

It’s funny because: A more labor-conscious plumber would pronounce the word as “yoon-yun-ized.” A chemist would probably say “un-eye-on-ized.”

It’s on this list because: What other joke can simultaneously address the removal of charged particles from an atom as well as the organization of workers trying to achieve shared goals?

Two women walk into a bar and talk about the Bechdel test.

REUTERS/Adrees Latif

It’s funny because: The Bechdel test is a measure of gender equality in the media. A piece of media is considered to pass the test if it includes at least two women who talk to each other about something besides men. This joke passes the test.

It’s on this list because: The media is self-referential.

Heard about that new band called 1023 MB? They haven’t had any gigs yet.


It’s funny because: A gigabyte is a measure of data equal to 1,024 MB. As you can see, the band is only 1,023 MB — they haven’t had any “gigs” yet.

It’s on this list because: A lot of people probably thought one GB is a nice, round 1,000 MB.

Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. A cop pulls him over and says, “Do you have any idea how fast you were going back there?” Heisenberg says, “No, but I knew where I was.”

timetrax23 via flickr

It’s funny because: Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist and one of the key figures in quantum theory. His famous “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal” states that we can know either where a quantum particle is or how fast it’s moving, but it’s impossible to know both at the same time.

It’s on this list because: Heisenberg’s life was amazing. Seriously.

C, Eb, and G walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, no minors.”

Vimeo/Mark Cersosimo and Kelsey Holtaway

It’s funny because: C, Eb, and G are the musical notes that constitute a C-minor chord.

It’s on this list because: The relationship between a major chord and its relative minor is pretty cool.

First Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t win. Second Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t break even. Third Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t stop playing.

It’s funny because: It’s an absolute reductionist take on the real laws of thermodynamics, and the language is such that it implies life isn’t worth living. In plain terms, the laws of thermodynamics are: Energy can’t be created or destroyed; things tend to move from order to disorder, and the lower the temperature drops, the less disorderly things become.

It’s in this list because: It’s actually an accurate take on thermodynamics.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.


It’s funny because: You were expecting the word “problem,” but the joke-teller replaced it with “precipitate,” which is the solid that forms in a solution of liquid after a chemical reaction has taken place.

It’s on this list because: Chemists are hard enough to understand as it is. Now you have a slight edge.

A linguistics professor says during a lecture that, “In English, a double negative forms a positive. But in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, in no language in the world can a double positive form a negative.” But then a voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”


It’s funny because: “Yeah” and “right” are technically affirmative words, but put these two positives together and you get an ultra-sarcastic, “ Yeah, right.”

It’s on this list because: It’s totally true.

“This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

It’s funny because: This phrase, with varying versions often attributed to Winston Churchill, is a response to the famous rule in English that a sentence isn’t supposed to end in a preposition. In constructing the sentence this way, the speaker is technically correct, but it’s an incredibly awkward way to communicate.

It’s on this list because: Language is complicated. Let’s mock it.

How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A fish.

Wikipedia user Wie146

It’s funny because: Surrealism is a movement all about creating weird, illogical art. As this joke makes no sense, it is itself a surrealist work.

It’s on this list because: Banana.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Knock knock. Who’s there? Philip Glass.

Philip Glass

Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff / Getty

It’s funny because: Philip Glass is an American composer whose music is often described as minimalist and repetitive.

It’s on this list because: You’ve very likely seen a few movies he scored.

What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac do at night? He stays up wondering if there really is a dog.

Randy Robertson/flickr

It’s funny because: This poor afflicted soul’s dyslexia has caused him to confuse “God” with “dog.” His agnosticism forces him to wrestle with “dog’s” existence. And his insomnia has him losing sleep over it.

It’s on this list because: You never know someone’s struggle.

Dylan Love contributed to an earlier version of this post.




We took a 4-hour flight on the new Delta Airbus jet that Boeing tried to keep out of the US. Here’s what it was like.


China has made its trade war demands ahead of the G20 summit: tariffs have not ‘made America great again’


The worst thing you can do with your 401(k) when you leave a job, according to a financial expert and bestselling author


‘The pain is just beginning’: After 38,000 layoffs, Wall Street wakes up to ‘peak car’


Why Chick-fil-A’s decision to close on Sundays is a brilliant business strategy

Close icon
Two crossed lines that form an ‘X’. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.

Check mark icon
A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.