Tiger in Chinese Knock Knock Joke


Informant: knock, knock

Me: Who’s there

Informant: Lao

Me: Lao who

Informant (chuckling): You just said tiger in Chinese.


The informant made this joke in 2nd or 3rd grade while learning Chinese. The joke is based on the fact that the Chinese word for tiger 老虎 (Lǎohǔ) is pronounced very similarly to “Lao who?”

The Informant notes that it is the only joke they’ll have on hand should someone ask them for a joke. I did just that and thus received this joke.


Though original, this joke clearly fits into the wider genre of jokes and riddles connecting similar sounds/pronunciations to their divergent meanings across languages. Especially with children (likely because they are learning and seeking to understand the languages they hear and speak), it is common to see linguistic exploration like this. there is also the common desire among young speakers to have a trick to their words or a “gotcha” as their punchline.