tease/ridicule/mock/laugh at

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nytas

Senior Member
chinese
Hi all, I'm confused about these words. Can anybody tell me which word is proper for each of the following sentences and tell me why?


1) When he first put forward the idea, he was .


2) Galileo mounted the steps of the tower. By that time there was already a big crowd. They had come to the crazy young scholar.


3) They were just you. They meant no harm.


4) He was very shy. We used to him.

5) Many people his attempt to remove the mountains.










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  • nytas

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thanks Falcons508:)
    But I'm still confused about these words. Can you tell me what's the difference between them and explain why you made such choice in the sentences?
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi all, I'm confused about these words. Can anybody tell me which word is proper for each of the following sentences and tell me why?



    1) When he first put forward the idea, he was ridiculed/mocked/laughed at
    Ridiculing, mocking and laughing at (in this context) is not kind. It is done with a mean-spiritedness.

    2) Galileo mounted the steps of the tower. By that time there was already a big crowd. They had come to the ridicule/mock/laugh at the crazy young scholar.

    3) They were just teasing you. They meant no harm. Teasing is much more "gentle" than mocking or ridiculing.

    4) He was very shy. We used to tease him.


    5) Many people ridiculed/mocked/laughed at his attempt to remove the mountains.​
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi all, I'm confused about these words. Can anybody tell me which word is proper for each of the following sentences and tell me why?



    1) When he first put forward the idea, he was ridiculed / or mocked or laughed at. I choose these three because they reflect a typical reaction to new ideas: ridicule, mockery, laughter. Teased would absolutely not work!

    2) Galileo mounted the steps of the tower. By that time there was already a big crowd. They had come to ridicule, mock, laugh at the crazy young scholar. Again, all 3 are possible because Galileo's idea about the earth revolving around the sun was new and, therefore, subject to scorn, ridicule, mockery.

    3) They were just teasing you. They meant no harm. Of the 3 choices, only teasing can generally be harmless.

    4) He was very shy. We used tease him. I hope the answer is "tease"; I would hate to think that people would be cruel enough to mock, ridicule or laugh at someone who is shy.


    5) Many people mocked, ridiculed, laughed at his attempt to remove the mountains. Again, all 3 are possible.
    .
    Teasing is generally playful. It is the mildest of these words.
    To laugh at speaks for itself, I hope.
    To ridicule is to treat something or someone with contempt.
    To mock also is to treat something or someone with contempt, and I can't think of a good way to explain the difference between ridicule and mock to you!

    If I think of something more, I'll post another answer.
    Joelline
     

    LMorland

    Senior Member
    American English
    Teasing is generally playful. It is the mildest of these words.
    To laugh at speaks for itself, I hope.
    To ridicule is to treat something or someone with contempt.
    To mock also is to treat something or someone with contempt, and I can't think of a good way to explain the difference between ridicule and mock to you!
    Dear Joelline,

    I agree that mock can mean to treat with contempt, but it utterly depends on context. We're having a discussion in the French-English forum at the moment [http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=666463] and I've suggested there that mock can also be gentler than laugh at.

    In the phrase "He's always mocking my American accent.", for example, there's no contempt expressed or implied. I'd say it's slightly stronger than teasing but not as harsh as laugh at.

    What do you all think?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I would certainly think that someone mocking anyone's accent would be doing it with some kind of contempt. If I mock a person's accent, for example, I would be making fun of it in a way that makes him appear stupid, strange, or inadequate.

    To avoid the sense of contempt, I would use "imitating/parroting/aping/mimicking". They have other connotations, but I don't think there's any contempt in any of them. Are you sure you didn't mean "mimicking" instead of "mocking"?
     

    LMorland

    Senior Member
    American English
    I would certainly think that someone mocking anyone's accent would be doing it with some kind of contempt.
    Well, I can only assume that you've never lived in France! The French make fun of each other all the time, and it's done with affection. They consider Americans to be incredibly thin-skinned, that we have to be so careful not to hurt one another's feelings. (The mocker I had in mind, by the way, is my (Parisian) choir director, and I'm quite sure he's fond of me. I'm the only American among 60+ choristes. But there are many other examples, all from persons who've known me for years.)

    Are you sure you didn't mean "mimicking" instead of "mocking"?
    You have a point. I would say that he's mocking my accent by mimicking it.*

    _________
    * But see Post #12 below.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I still contend that I wouldn't use the word "mock", in English, to mean playful teasing. If it's done with affection, I don't think "mock" applies.

    "He's making fun of my accent" could be either affectionate or disdainful, but "affectionate mocking" is an oxymoron in my book. :)

    [edit] I followed your links and found it interesting that another user commented on the pairing of "moquer" and "make fun of" as a more appropriate translation than "mock". Do you think some French might be creeping into your English? ;)
     

    LMorland

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, James M, Merriam-Webster does support your harsher connotation of the verb. It's interesting that my sense of its range of meanings differs.

    But see definition #4!
    transitive verb (15th century, from moker)
    1: to treat with contempt or ridicule : deride
    2: to disappoint the hopes of
    3: defy, challenge
    4 a: to imitate (as a mannerism) closely : mimic b: to mimic in sport or derision
    [edit] I followed your links and found it interesting that another user commented on the pairing of "moquer" and "make fun of" as a more appropriate translation than "mock". Do you think some French might be creeping into your English? ;)
    Oh God, I certainly hope not. :eek: Then my (part-time) career as a translator is over! When I go back to the States later on this month I'll interrogate my (uncontaminated) family and friends on their impressions of the word.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I accept that it's possible to use the word with that meaning. I suggest, though, that if your intent is to communicate "playful teasing", definition 4b is not the first that will come to mind for the average English speaker.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Mimicking is to imitate. A bird hunter, for example, might mimic a bird call to attract birds. Mocking is deriding or showing contempt for something or someone, in my understanding of the word's definition.

    So...

    "He is showing contempt for my accent by imitating it" is how I would interpret that sentence. But I think LMorland would interpret it as "He is (playfully) teasing me about my accent by imitating it."
     
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