Laughter Vocabulary

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.

Irish proverb

We bet you’ve heard that laughter helps you live longer. But in fact there are so many different ways to laugh! Can all of those ways really extend our life? What if we’re talking not about giggling or chuckling but sniggering and scoffing? Do you know what those words mean? Keep reading if you don’t. And if you do, we’ve got more than that in this article. So, lie back and indulge in reading and learning!

LAUGHTER OR LAUGH?

Laughter is an uncountable noun which means the action or sound of laughing:

  • I heard sounds of hysterical laughter upstairs.
  • Her infectious laughter had everyone smiling.
  • A ripple (a gentle rising and falling sound that spreads through a group of people) of laughter ran round the room.

To laugh is a verb:

  • You never laugh at my jokes. 
  • Please don’t laugh about my hairstyle. 
  • They burst out laughing when they saw his Halloween costume. 
  • When she said she would become a star, they laughed in her face

Laugh can also be a countable noun meaning the act or sound of laughing (just like the noun “laughter”) or something that causes laughter:

  • She forced a humorless laugh.
  • I decided to go to that event for laughs (just for enjoyment).
  • We always have a good laugh (we always have fun).
  • You are such a good laugh (you are fun to be with) (chiefly British).

So, “laughter” and “laugh” are interchangeable if they mean the act/sound of laughing. But only “laugh” can mean something (somebody) causing laughter. 

Note that there are many set expressions with “laugh”. They’s better be memorized. Some examples are:

When I was a kid, I liked to play for laughs (act in a funny way to make people laugh).

You can laugh at me now, but I’ll have the last laugh (I’ll succeed even though you doubt me).

WAYS TO LAUGH

When I was a child, dad used to tickle me, which made me giggle a lot. He could also tell stories that would crack me up (make me laugh a lot).

Jack is always telling jokes, having everyone in stitches! As for his jokes, they are easy to get (understand). But Mary’s jokes sometimes fall flat / her jokes are lame/corny / her jokes bomb (they don’t make anyone laugh).

I don’t like it when people roar, even if the comedy they are watching is hilarious (very funny).

I like it when people howl with laughter. It means they love the comedy they are watching.

She was reading her favorite book chuckling softly.

I titter in embarrassment every time you mention this.

How can I forget, with people sniggering/snickering behind my back?

It’s easy to scoff when you haven’t tried it yourself.

The old lady cackled, pleased to have produced such a dramatic reaction.

  • To giggle – to laugh in a childlike way (click here to hear a child giggling)
  • To have sb. in stitches – to make someone laugh a lot
  • To roar/howl with laughter – to laugh in a very noisy way (click here to hear a man roaring/howling with laughter)
  • To chuckle – to laugh quietly (click here to hear chuckling)
  • To titter – to give a short nervous laugh (especially in embarrassment) + to laugh quietly (hear the audience tittering)
  • To snigger (chiefly British) / snicker (chiefly American) – to laugh quietly in a disrespectful way (hear a person sniggering/snickering)
  • To scoff – to laugh at someone showing them you think they are stupid
  • To cackle – to laugh in an unpleasant way, often because something bad has happened / is happening to someone
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We hope you never run out of reasons to smile and laugh genuinely! Thank you for reading!