20 Ways to Laugh

By Mark Nichol

Go ahead and try this (if you’re alone, that is): Explore all the varieties of laughter you can produce, and label each one. There’s an often-distinct word or phrase for each type. Here are twenty ways to laugh, and some related expressions.

1. (Be) in stitches: to laugh
2. Belly-laugh: to laugh in a deep, hearty manner, as if from the abdomen or in such a way that one’s abdomen moves from the exertion
3. Break up: to laugh as if helplessly
4. Cachinnate: to laugh loudly and/or obnoxiously
5. Cackle: to laugh harshly or sharply
6. Chortle: to chuckle or to otherwise laugh to express satisfaction or triumph
7. Chuckle: to laugh mildly and/or quietly
8. Crack up: see “break up”
9. Crow: to laugh derisively or gloatingly
10. Giggle: to laugh with short, repetitive sounds
11. Guffaw: to laugh boisterously and/or loudly
12. Hee-haw: a synonym for guffaw
13. Horselaugh: To laugh in a way suggestive of or in imitation of a horse’s neighing or whinnying
14. Jeer: to laugh disrespectfully or mockingly
15. Scoff: to laugh derisively or dismissively
16. Snicker: to partially suppress a laugh, as if to conceal one’s mirth
17. Snigger: an alteration of snicker, with the additional connotation of mischief
18. Split (one’s) sides: to laugh convulsively, as if continuing to do so will cause one’s body to rupture
19. Titter: to laugh in an affected manner, or nervously; also a synonym of snicker and snigger
20. Twitter: a synonym of giggle or titter, but also means to chatter or to tremble as if agitated

One can howl, roar, scream, shriek, snort, or whoop with laughter. One can also be said to burst (or bust) out laughing, to convulse with laughter, to die laughing, and to be helpless with laughter, as well as to roll in the aisles (as if unable to keep from falling into the aisle while seated at a humorous performance). Other idioms include “laugh your head off” and “laugh yourself silly.” Can you think of any more words or idioms?

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2 Responses to “20 Ways to Laugh”

  • Curtis

    How about, “I laughed so hard I had tears running down my leg”?

  • thebluebird11

    LOL @Curtis…which reminds me, what about LOL (in terms of another idiom) and LMAO (variation on laughing one’s head off), plus/minus ROFL? One can also laugh ’til one cries, and laugh all the way to the bank. You can laugh in the face of danger and laugh at fate. I guess you can also die laughing.
    Also, while one can sound like a horse while laughing, one can also bray like a donkey. If you get into the onomatopoeia, there is the “evil” laugh (“bwa-ha-ha-ha!”), and so many others, like tee-hee and hee-hee-hee (I guess a chuckle, or might be a snicker). In other countries/languages, the sounds are sometimes expressed differently, and I find that fascinating.

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