Where Did the Word “Gag” For a Joke Come From and What Does it Mean?

The original meaning of the word gag was to prevent someone from speaking, either by covering the mouth or through a legal restraint such as a gag order.

The jocular use of gag originated in the theater to describe times when an actor inserted an unscripted, and often humorous, line into a play.

It was called a gag because the ad lib often caused fellow actors to lose their focus and become speechless.

That’s why a vocal restraint and a joke are both called a “gag”.