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Why Do They Call It A... Funny Bone?

Hitting your funny bone is no laughing matter, but how did it get its funny name?

It's the latest edition of our "Why Do They Call It That?" series.

Brian Bogert has hit his funny bone. He said it's not so funny.

I did it one time and it hurt. Believe me, said Bogert.

Without a doubt, hitting your funny bone is something you'll always remember.

Frank Unger agrees. It's just very hard to describe. It's like a deadening pain almost, Unger said.

Angela Pyzowski describes it as a shock, almost like a nerve going "zing."

In some cases, you might say some things actually tickle your funny bone, try Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, or even Rodney Dangerfield.

But why do they call it a funny bone?

It's funny. The funny bone is actually not a bone, said Dr. Michael Krafczyk of St. Luke's Hospital.

It's a nerve, called the ulnar nerve.

When you hit your funny bone you're actually pinching the nerve, Krafczyk said.

As for how it got its name, one theory is that it comes from the feeling you get when you smack it, you might say it feels funny.

It usually lasts for a few minutes and then goes away, Krafczyk said.

The more likely explanation is the nerve hits up against the humerus bone which sounds like humorous, which means funny.

And while laughter may be the best medicine, that may not be true in this case.

So why do they call it a funny bone? Now you know.


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