Everyone loves to laugh. Whether it’s because of a funny movie, a good knock-knock jokeor a clown, smiling and laughing just make us feel better. So what tickles your funny bone?

Did you even know you had a funny bone? Well, you do…although it doesn’t have anything to do with laughing or your sense of humor.

If you’ve ever hit your funny bone, you probably remember it. If you bump the inside of your elbow in just that certain place, you’ll experience a weird tingling feeling or maybe even a dull pain that smarts just a bit. It usually feels like a weird “pins and needles” sensation and it may hurt.

That’s your funny bone! And the funny thing is…it’s not a bone at all! The “funny bone” is actually a nerve. The ulnar nerve runs along the inside part of your elbow. It sends information to the brain from your pinky finger and the finger right next to it. It also controls some of your hand’s movements.

The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected nerve in the body. Unlike most other nerves that are protected by muscle or bone, the ulnar nerve sits on top of the hard part of your elbow where there’s usually not much fatty tissue to cushion it.

As a result, the ulnar nerve is easy to ding by bumping it against something. When this happens, the ulnar nerve is pressed against the nearby humerus bone, which is the long bone that goes from your elbow to your shoulder.

Bumping your “funny bone” like this doesn’t do any damage to your elbow or the ulnar nerve, but it sure feels weird! You can usually feel the sensation primarily in the areas controlled by the ulnar nerve: your pinky and ring fingers.

If you’re wondering how the “funny bone” got its name, there are a couple of theories. Some people believe it’s because of the funny feeling (funny as in “weird,” not funny as in “ha-ha!”) you get when you bump your elbow in this way.

Others believe it’s because the ulnar nerve hits the humerus bone. Although it’s spelled differently, humerus is pronounced just like “humorous,” which means funny.

 

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    • Hello, Rahul! Thanks so much for suggesting a Wonder about R2-D2…you’ve given us a great idea for a future Wonder of the Day® about ROBOTS! :-)

  1. Wow, that is a COOL wonder of the day! I had always thought that your funny bone was a bone, not a nerve. I think that tomorrow’s will be about skateboard tricks.

    • Thanks for letting us know you learned a cool new fact about your funny bone by exploring this Wonder of the Day®, Nick! We like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, too! Did you know there is already a cool skateboard trick Wonder? It’s past Wonder #318 – How Do You Ollie? Here is a link that will take you right to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-do-you-ollie/. Happy WONDERing! :-)

  2. Wow is right! Now I have back up information on my theory that it indeed was not a bone at all. I also agree a wonder of the day about robots would be interesting. Like I was saying, I think that an wonder of the day about brain cells could be interesting…..For example, what happens when you hit your head too many times, or why you feel, in lack of a better word “dumb” when school starts back.

    • We think your comment is AWESOME, Leira’! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis today and for sharing your great suggestion for a future Wonder about the brain and/or brain cells! :-)

  3. Yes, everyone has a funny bone even if they are not funny! We think that everyone has the same skeleton. We were surprised that the funny bone is not a bone but a nerve! We love checking out the wonder of the day-thanks for getting us thinking every Wednesday morning!

    • We’re so glad visiting Wonderopolis is part of your Wednesday mornings, Mrs. Morales’ second graders! Thank you for sharing all the FUN things you guys learned by exploring today’s Wonder of the Day® together! :-)

    • Happy Wednesday, Sandy! We think you are a SUPER Wonder Friend for leaving us a comment on Wonderopolis.org AND on our Wonderopolis Facebook page today! We like hearing from you and appreciate how you seek to instill WONDER in your students! :-)

    • Thanks for trying to guess what tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® will be about, Ivana! We think it’s GREAT that so many of our Wonder Friends live in different parts of the country (and the world!) and get to experience all sorts of environments! We bet living in the desert provides you with LOTS of things to WONDER about…we think that’s AWESOME!

      We have a past Wonder we think you might enjoy! It’s past Wonder #67 – When Were Ice Skates Invented? Here is a link to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/when-were-ice-skates-invented/. Happy WONDERing! :-)

    • We thought that was an interesting fact to learn, too, Allie! Thank you for stopping by Wonderopolis today and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

  4. Dear WONDEROPOLIS,
    I learned that … if you hit your funny bone it might tingle. The funny bone is not a bone it is a nerve. Your funny bone does not have that much tissue. People think the name funny bone came from because your funny bone tickles. My class is doing the skeleton you put on WONDEROPOLIS. Do we have two funny bones? Mrs. Phillips’ WONDERFUL Student, Allison

    • You really learned a LOT about funny bones today, Allison! We’re so super proud of you! You know what? We DO have TWO funny bones (ulnar nerves), one for each arm! That’s some AWESOME extra WONDERing you did about that! :-)

    • Thanks so much for letting us know you liked today’s Wonder of the Day® and that you enjoyed learning new things by exploring it, Richard! We’re happy to hear from you! :-)

  5. We appreciate that you write the articles so they are easy to understand. We enjoyed the topic. The video was difficult to understand. We wish the video had more scientific information about the “funny bone” and ulnar nerve.

    • Hello, Mrs. Upham’s Class! Thank you so much for visiting today’s Wonder and for letting us know what you thought about the video! We try really hard to pick the best video to go along with each Wonder of the Day®. Sometimes we pick videos that help explain the Wonder of the Day® a little better. Other times, we pick videos that just show kids and grown ups something fun that relates to that day’s Wonder. We try to vary the types of videos we show so there is always something new! :-)

    • Happy Wednesday, Jimmy! We think you are really lucky if you have never hit your funny bone (ulnar nerve)! It’s not a “funny” feeling at all! :-)

  6. I’ve hit my funny bone before, it didn’t feel good. I don’t know why they call it a funny bone if it’s not funny, and it’s not a bone…it’s a nerve!!!!! I hate when I hit my funny bone. You don’t even laugh.

    • You’re right about that one, Kymberly! We don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone laugh when they’ve hit their funny bone, either! We HAVE heard some crying and yelling of the word, “OUCH,” though! :-)

  7. It does tickle when you hit your funny bone. It tickles really bad that I want to cry. I want to be in the wonderoplis crew. I would scream loud if I was. Wonderoplis is so cool, I want to make a wonder to show everyone in my school, but it would be a funny one that my whole school and my classmates would laugh very loudly. lol :-)

    • Guess what, Aleia? You ARE in the Wonderopolis crew! Every Wonder Friend who visits Wonderopolis and learns something new each day is absolutely part of our WONDER CREW! You can even suggest ideas for future Wonders of the Day® by leaving us a comment, or by clicking on the “nominate” button at the top of every page in Wonderopolis, filling in the boxes, and submitting your awesome idea! It’s really simple and LOTS of fun! :-)

    • OF COURSE we like your comment, Aiden! We like all of your comments! We think you are a GREAT Wonder Friend for exploring each day’s Wonder and leaving us comments when you can! We really appreciate you letting us know what you think and learn after you visit the Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  8. NOT EVERYONE HAS A SILLY BONE. WHEN YOU ARE A BABY, YOU DON’T HAVE ONE BUT, AS YOU GROW UP, IT GET BIGGER AND BIGGER. WHEN YOU HIT IT ON SOMETHING, IT SIZZLES.

    • We really like the word you used to describe what it feels like when you hit your funny bone, Tylan! “SIZZLES” is a very creative word that really describes what it feels like! Way to go! :-)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Cool wonder! You don’t have a funny bone when you are younger but as you get older it gets bigger. And when you hit it on something, it hurts or vibrates. It feels weird. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about bugs.
    XOXOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

    • Thanks for letting us know you liked the video for this Wonder and also for sharing your thoughts about funny bones, Kendall! We’re glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

  10. Hey! Ms. Brasdis told me my wonder was up here, but I wanted to check and see for myself. Awesome! Thanks for wondering with me and letting me know what a funny bone is all about.

    • We think it’s AWESOME that you checked out today’s Wonder, Brandon…thanks so much for inspiring it! We’re super glad you learned what a funny bone really was! :-)

    • Great job, Jacob! We really like hearing all the great facts our Wonder Friends learn by exploring the Wonders of the Day! Thanks for sharing what YOU learned today! :-)

    • We think that’s so COOL that your class is going on a skating field trip, Tiffaniey! That sounds like so much fun! We never give away the next Wonder of the Day®, but we like to give a hint or two! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself with all of your friends here in Wonderopolis, Tiffaniey! We’re glad you stopped by this Wonder today…have FUN on your field trip! :-)

  11. Hi, Wonderopolis! We did not know that your funny bone is really a nerve! It makes your hand go up and down when you hit the front of your elbow. We did not know that at all! Thank you for the wonderful Wonder!!!!!!! Bye, Wonderopolis

    • Thanks for being WONDERful Wonder Friends, Kim and Lauren! We liked receiving your comment today and hearing what you guys learned about funny bones! :-)

  12. Hey Guys! It’s Joaquin! This Is An AWESOME Post! My Mommy And Me Tried The Mr. Bones And We Won! Though It Took Until 12:00 am We Won! I Was Suggesting That After The R2-D2 Post You Post A Article
    About Spongebob Squarepants! I Wanna Know Why They Started
    Making Spongebob Squarepants And His Story! You’re The BEST Information Giving Website In The Universe! WONDERopolis Forever! Until Then……………

    R
    O
    C
    K

    O
    N
    !

    • WOW, Joaquin! Congrats to you and your mom! We think it ROCKS that you shared Wonderopolis together at home…it makes us super happy when we hear about families doing that! Thanks for the awesome things you said about Wonderopolis, too! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  13. I’ve hit my funny bone already, it was not nice, nothing funny about it at all. I did not know that it was a nerve, though, but now I understand why it feels that way. It sure feels painfully funny. Thank you, wonderopolis.

    • Your comment is AWESOME, Glenise! We like how you described the way hitting your funny bone feels “painfully funny.” That’s a good way to put it! :-)

  14. I’m wondering how many bones you have in your body? Because I don’t know how many bones are in your body.

    • Hi, Jacob! That’s a GREAT question! The average adult human being has 206 bones. Thanks for WONDERing about that…we’re proud of you! :-)

    • Hello, Anna! When you hit your funny bone (or ulnar nerve), you will feel a strong tingle. Sometimes this feeling startles people. Maybe when you are startled, it is your natural reaction to laugh? Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Hello, Marion! Thanks for leaving us so many great comments on different Wonders today! We appreciate you exploring Wonderopolis and sharing what you liked about your adventure! :-)

  15. Hi there, wonderopolis!! I stumbled across this website and think it’s just fantastic!! I can’t wait to start using it with my class each week for a “WONDER-full Wednesday” brain spot!! It’s such a fantastic site and it’s very impressive that you are able to reply to every post!! My kids are going to LOVE this!! :D

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Mrs D’s Year 6 Class! We are so happy you found us and we look forward to hearing about all the WONDERful things you and your students will be learning on Wednesdays! It’s AWESOME to meet new Wonder Friends! :-)

  16. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about skating. I think tomorrow’s WONDER of the day is going to be about again skateboards, people, tracks or skating rinks. I wonder who invented skateboards. Have a WONDERful day.

  17. Why is it called a funny bone? It’s not even funny. I always thought it was a nerve not called “funny bone.”
    <3 you guys. P.S. You guys make good videos to watch in school, then learn about it.

    • Thanks for letting us know you visit Wonderopolis in school and learn new things when you do, SsassyCat923! It makes us really happy to hear that! :-)

    • Hi, Ivana! Did you know that most of the ideas for future Wonders of the Day® come from the creative minds of Wonder Friends just like YOU? It’s true! You can let us know the awesome things you WONDER about anytime by leaving us a comment or by clicking on the “nominate” link at the top of every page in Wonderopolis and answering the quick questions! It’s really fun to WONDER, and it’s really easy to let us know what kinds of ideas you have for future Wonders of the Day! :-)

  18. Yes everybody does. They call it a funny bone because after you hit it and it really hurts it tingles and it feels funny. It’s happened to me a ton of times.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®, Landon! We really appreciate your comment! :-)

  19. Is there a way you can tell me how to put Mr. Bones back together again? I tried. I only had a few left. Do you have a picture that has labels. :-) Have a fantastic day…hold on, wait. Do you have a wonder on wonderopolis or can you because I am going to vacation on Friday so can you do it on Thursday? ps I LOVE WONDEROPOLIS.

    • It makes us so happy to hear that you love visiting Wonderopolis, Kelly! Woo, hoo! A future Wonder about Wonderopolis sounds like a GREAT idea! Thanks so much for suggesting it! We’re glad you tried putting Mr. Bones back together! Keep trying…you will get him back into a SUPER skeleton soon! :-)

    • Hello, Rithik! Thanks for leaving us a comment today! We think you are an AMAZING Wonder Friend and we really enjoy hearing from you! We hope you will visit us again sometime super soon and learn some FUN new things with us! :-)

    • Hey there, great question, Alexis B! Check out the excerpt from our Wonder… we think you’ll find your answer here:
      “The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected nerve in the body. Unlike most other nerves that are protected by muscle or bone, the ulnar nerve sits on top of the hard part of your elbow where there’s usually not much fatty tissue to cushion it.

      As a result, the ulnar nerve is easy to ding by bumping it against something. When this happens, the ulnar nerve is pressed against the nearby humerus bone, which is the long bone that goes from your elbow to your shoulder.

      Bumping your “funny bone” like this doesn’t do any damage to your elbow or the ulnar nerve, but it sure feels weird! You can usually feel the sensation primarily in the areas controlled by the ulnar nerve: your pinky and ring fingers.” :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Does everyone have a funny bone?
  • Why is it called the funny bone?
  • Is the funny bone really a bone?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to learn more about the real bones in your body? When you’re fully grown, you’ll have a whopping 206 bones in your body. Do you know the names of all your bones?

If you’re curious about what a particular bone is called, check out this great online resource that lists all the bones in the human skeleton. Once you have a basic idea of what the human skeleton looks like, try to put Mr. Bones back together after he falls apart!

When you think you have learned the names of the major bones, try printing and filling out this bone quiz. When you’re finished, you can even cut out the bones and piece them together to form your own homemade skeleton!

After learning about bones, you might be ready to jump up and get your bones moving. If so, dance and sing along with The Wiggles as they perform that old classic “Dem Dry Bones!

 

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Tickle Your Funny Bone podcast, host Emily Manning yucks it up with kids’ humorist Mike Artell and explores three books sure to get your kids reading, speaking, and laughing out loud.

 

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