10 Words You’ll Enjoy Using More Than “Fun”

From throwing a party to going on an adventure to simply playing a new board game, we tend to describe any form of entertainment as fun. Going to the movies? Fun. Baking a cake? Fun. Training for a marathon? Fun—for some people, anyway.

As a result, the word fun has become a go-to, often cliché, description for having a good time. We get it, fun is pretty fun. But, if it can be used for everything from baking cakes to marathon training, it might be time to dial back our use of this word and switch to alternatives that are ... funner (yes, that's a real word)!

To help mix it up a little bit, we've gathered some of our favorite synonyms for one of the most entertaining words around. We think you'll have fun trying out some of these alternatives for fun as an adjective.

Before we get into the alternatives, though, we first want to draw your attention to a term that typically isn't one, which is ...

funny

If something is fun, meaning "enjoyable," you may find it funny, as in "causes laughter." While these two terms are related, they are not interchangeable.

For example:

 

  • The baseball game yesterday was a lot of fun.

If you try to substitute funny into the sentence, it doesn't make any sense. You wouldn't go to a baseball game expecting to laugh in the same way you would a comedy show, right?

However, maybe one of the plays at the game made you laugh. Then, it would make sense to say, "That awkward bunt was pretty funny."

The word fun comes from the obsolete fon which meant "to act the fool" or "to make a fool of." As a general rule, if something is simply diverting or entertaining, it is likely fun. If it is supposed to make you laugh, it is likely funny. Sometimes, things are both, as in, "The comedy show was fun and funny," meaning the comedy show was a good time and it made people laugh.

Now, let's move on to take a look at some of the words we can use to substitute for fun.

entertaining

One of the easiest synonyms of fun to use is entertaining. Entertaining means "amusing, diverting." This term can be used in many contexts as a synonym for fun when it is used as an adjective, especially when discussing topics such as performances (such as music or theater) or games. It is slightly more formal than fun, but still an everyday term.

For example:

 

  • It was entertaining to watch the acrobats tumble up on the high wire.
  • We thought the card games at Cary's birthday party were very entertaining.

The word entertaining ultimately comes from the Latin intertenēre meaning "to hold mutually." Entertain was originally used in English to describe how things are entwined together. Later, entertain described something that holds one's attention—like a play or spectacle.

If entertaining isn't fun enough for you, you might want to kick it up a notch with our next word.

engrossing

While the term engrossing might sound a little disgusting, it's really not yucky at all. Engrossing means "fully occupying the mind or attention; absorbing." You can think of it like a more intense form of entertaining. If something entertaining holds your attention, something engrossing completely takes all of your attention.

Keep in mind, not everything that is engrossing is fun. For example, working hard on a task may be described as "engrossing," but it probably isn't very fun for most people. However, an activity that is enjoyable and totally captivates you is engrossing.

For example:

 

  • From the opening curtain, Fedwa found the play entirely engrossing; she could barely look away.

Perhaps, though, you prefer the kind of entertainment that doesn't just hold your attention, but also gives you chills. Then you might prefer the synonym ...

 

If something is truly engrossing, would you also call it "interesting"? We have some better options for you here.

thrilling

We are thrilled to introduce you to our next synonym ... thrilling. The adjective thrilling means "producing sudden, strong, and deep emotion or excitement." It can also mean "producing a tremor, as by chilling" or "vibrating; trembling; quivering."

This word is a synonym of fun in the sense that when you are having fun you might experience a thrill. Examples of the kind of fun that is thrilling are bungee jumping, scary movies, or bumper cars.

For instance:

 

  • It was thrilling to gallop the horses across the field with her best friend at her side.

The word thrilling comes from the Middle English thrillen, which originally meant "to penetrate." Now here's a fun (and funny) connection: it turns out the word thrill is related to the word nostril. See if you can trace the connection of their origins by learning more about nostril here.

delightful

Anything that brings you pleasure might be described as delightful. Delight comes from the Latin dēlectāre meaning "to allure, attract, charm, please." (The adjective form of the verb, delightful, was first recorded around 1520.)

The term delightful may be considered a bit more sophisticated, but still common enough, term than fun. Some things that might be described as delightful are a delicious meal, a pleasant afternoon spent at the park, or a creative piece of music.

For example:

 

  • The tiny bells hanging off the edge of her skirt tinkled in a delightful way that reminded Yosra of winter sleigh rides.

Here, the soft tinkling sounds of bells bring Yosra some small pleasures. But it isn't the same high-octane kind of fun suggested by ...

enthralling

If something has ever grabbed your attention so quickly and completely that you were focused on it to the exclusion of all else, you have experienced something enthralling. Action flicks, roller coasters, magic shows—all enthralling.

A thrall is "a person who is morally or mentally enslaved by some power, influence, or the like." Another meaning of it is "a person held in bondage or slavery." The prefix en- has various meanings, including "to cause (a person or thing) to be in" a place or condition. Enthrall literally means "to cause bondage." While this sounds (and was originally) very dark, you can think of enthralling, the adjective form of the word, as an even more intense form of entertaining and engrossed.

For example:

  • The enthralling performers were pulling out all the stops—from pyrotechnics to complicated dance choreography—to keep the audience energized.

Sounds like a fun show to us. An important part of having fun, though, isn't just that it takes up all of your attention—it also distracts you from boring, not-fun responsibilities like chores. That's where our next term for fun comes in.

diverting

Diverting sounds more like a traffic direction than a synonym for fun, but trust us—diverting can mean "entertaining, amusing."

It does have some connection with directions, though. The word divert comes from the Latin dīvertere, meaning "to turn in different directions." Essentially, you think of something diverting as turning you away from something boring toward something more interesting. The adjective form of the word, diverting, was first recorded around 1650.

Some examples of fun things you might find diverting are scrolling through videos on social media, playing word games, or joking around with your friends in class. Here's an example of how to use diverting in a sentence:

 

  • There were tons of diverting activities at the summer camp, like kayaking, pottery, and archery.

Sounds like a fun camp, and we're willing to bet that the campers are ...

boisterous

The term boisterous is most often used to describe people or other creatures that are a lot of fun to be around because of their high energy (although, sometimes, it can be a little hard to handle). Boisterous means "rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous; unrestrained."

For example:

 

  • The pair had come upon a boisterous scene: a group was crowded around the piano singing, and Donia and Nyzar were dancing in the kitchen.

Boisterous comes from the Middle English boistous meaning "crude, strong, fierce, gross." While boisterous is a less-common synonym for fun, it's perfect for describing chaotic but entertaining scenarios like this party.

Another term that could be used to describe a party is ...

a gas

Literally, a gas is "a substance possessing perfect molecular mobility and the property of indefinite expansion, as opposed to a solid or liquid." But when it comes to having fun, a gas is "a good time."

According to Green's Dictionary of Slang, this use of gas to mean "a very enjoyable experience" comes from Irish slang. In fact, the first known recorded use of it in this sense is from James Joyce's 1914 collection Dubliners. While the origins of this slang term are unknown, apocryphally it is said to be related to nitrous oxide or laughing gas, a form of anesthetic known to cause feelings of exhilaration. It is often used in the expression "to have a gas."

While a gas is a bit of a dated expression these days, we can attest that it is really fun to use. Take this as an example:

 

  • Everyone had a gas at the wrap party for the show, even the grouchy stage manager.

Sounds like a fun party, or might we say ...

have a ball

It doesn't require a huge stretch of the imagination to understand how a ball came to be a synonym for fun. After all, what's more fun than a ball? While a ball is literally "a large, usually lavish, formal party featuring social dancing," in this expression it has come to refer to any kind of party or celebration.

According to Green's Dictionary of Slang, the expression a ball in this sense comes from Black American slang dating to 1864. The full phrase to have a ball is first in evidence around the 1920s. While originally a ball referenced parties explicitly, it quickly came to define any kind of fun to be had, from sporting events to family vacations.

For example:

 

  • My grandparents had a ball at bingo night at the church last week.

Of course, fun isn't always an adjective. Sometimes, it's also our next word.

merriment

Fun, of course can also be used as a noun, as in, "Emy is full of fun." Here, fun is used as a thing, a quality, that Emy is full of. Most of the synonyms for fun we have covered are good replacements for when you need a new adjective. But, what if you're looking for a substitute for fun as a noun? Well, look no further. We have you covered there, too.

One of our favorite synonyms for fun as a noun is merriment (and not just because it makes us think of Merry Brandybuck from The Lord of the Rings). Merriment means "cheerful or joyful gaiety; mirth; hilarity; laughter." It comes from the Old English myrige, meaning "pleasant, delightful." You can use merriment to mean fun as a noun in most contexts, although it is particularly associated with causing laughter.

For example:

 

  • Merriment was had by all at the extravagant five-course meal.

Some other synonyms for fun as an noun that you might choose to use are:

 

We hope you had a diverting, thrilling, delightful time with our coverage of some of our favorite fun synonyms. If you want even more options, check out fun over at Thesaurus.com, or let Grammar Coach™ do the work of swapping synonyms (as well as grammar checking and more!) for you. You're sure enjoy writing a whole lot more.