Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to laughter: Laughter is the best medicine


 (lăf′tər, läf′-)
1. The act of laughing.
2. The sound produced by laughing.
3. Archaic A cause or subject for laughter.

[Middle English, from Old English hleahtor.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the action of or noise produced by laughing
2. the experience or manifestation of mirth, amusement, scorn, or joy
[Old English hleahtor; related to Old Norse hlātr]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈlæf tər, ˈlɑf-)

1. the action or sound of laughing.
2. an experiencing of the emotion expressed by laughing.
3. an expression or appearance of merriment.
4. Archaic. an object of laughter.
[before 900; Middle English; Old English hleahtor, c. Old High German hlahtar, Old Norse hlātr; see laugh]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


See also humor.

relating to foolish or excessive laughter. [Allusion to Democritus, the laughing philosopher, born in Abdero.]
raucous laughter; loud whinnying.
a form of divination that determines a person’s character or future from the way he laughs.
the quality or condition of being merry or cheerful. — jocund, adj.
an abnormal fear or dislike of ridicule.
1. the ability or disposition to laugh.
2. a humorous awareness of the ridiculous and absurd.
3. laughter.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


 a clutch of eggs; a group of ostlers—Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.
Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.




  1. As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool —The Holy Bible/Ecclesiastes
  2. Basically when you laugh you have to make a fool of yourself … it’s like sex —Robin Williams, “Sixty Minutes” interview, September 21, 1986
  3. Chuckle … it sounded like a trapped wasp —Jonathan Gash
  4. Chuckles … empty and round, like bubbles —Dan Jacobson
  5. Chuckling like a jovial insurance salesman —James Crumley
  6. Contralto laughter, like a violin obligato under trills of a flute —Carlos Baker
  7. A dry crackle like leaves crushed underfoot —Louise Erdrich
  8. Dry laughter like the cackle of crows or the crackling of fallen leaves underfoot —Margaret Laurence
  9. Giggled … like a naughty child which has unintentionally succeeded in amusing the grown-ups —Christopher Isherwood
  10. (They kissed. And) giggled like cartoon mice —Tom Robbins
  11. Giggle, like a child watching a Hollywood adventure film —Nadine Gordimer
  12. A good laugh is sunshine in a house —William Makepeace Thackeray
  13. Heavy, melodious laughter, like silver coins shaking in a bag —Aharon Megged
  14. Her braying laugh rang out like the report of a shotgun —James Thurber
  15. Her laugh broke like a dish —Cynthia Ozick
  16. Her laugh crackled … like a leap of electricity —Richard Francis
  17. Her laugh pealed out like a raven escaping into the night —Donald McCaig
  18. Her laugh rang like the jangling of bracelets —Derek Walcott
  19. Her laughter hung in the air like sleigh bells on a winter night —Jay Parini
  20. Her laughter was a titanic, passionate thing that seemed to pass up like a wave from her toes to her mouth —Pat Conroy
  21. High laugh, like a dove cry —Eudora Welty
  22. A high laugh like a wicked witch —Carolyn Chute
  23. His laughter thickened like a droning bell —James Wright
  24. A hoarse, very small laugh, like a cat’s cough —Frank Swinnerton
  25. A horrifying derisive laugh, like rolling tin —Barry Hannah
  26. Laugh … as if a demon within him were exulting with gloating scorn —Iris Murdoch
  27. (Louisa’s) laugh begins high and descends from there like a cascade —Daphne Merkin
  28. Laughed, a little drugged giggle, like chatter —Paul Theroux
  29. Laughed contemptuously like a whore being offered too little money —Gary Hart
  30. Laughed, like a bowlful of jelly —Clement C. Moore
  31. Laughed like a windup machine —John D. MacDonald
  32. Laughed like monkeys —Richard Ford
  33. Laughed like murmurs of the sea —W. B. Yeats
  34. Laughed … like the trill of a hedge-warbler —Frank Swinnerton
  35. A laugh exploded out of me like a sneeze —Scott Spencer
  36. Laughing, a sound like wind in the grass —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  37. A laugh is just like sunshine —Anon rhyme

    The simile is the poem’s repeat motif.

  38. Laugh … like the barking of a fox —Erich Maria Remarque
  39. Laugh … like a bird’s carol on the sunrise breeze —John Greenleaf Whittier
  40. Laugh like a hyena —William Shakespeare

    This simile from As You Like It crops up in many a modern short story and novel.

  41. Laugh … like a spoon tinkling against a medicine glass —Katherine Mansfield
  42. Laugh … like a thrush singing —Oscar Wilde
  43. A laugh like clapboards being ripped off the side of a house —Peter De Vries
  44. Laughs [in a film] … come out of despair, like bits of green in a graveyard —Walter Goodman about the movie, No Surrender, New York Times, August 6, 1986
  45. Laughs like a rhinoceros —Tom Davies

    The person Davies described was Samuel Johnson.

  46. Laughs like little bells in light wind —George Garrett
  47. Laughter … checked by small clutches of muscle, like tiny fists, at the corners of his mouth —Leonard Michaels
  48. Laughter crackling like a schoolgirl who has not experienced enough of the world to fear it —Ira Wood
  49. Laughter cruel as barbed wire —George Garrett
  50. Laughter falls like rain or tears —Dame Edith Sitwell
  51. Laughter fell like a shower of coins —George Garrett
  52. Laughter … high and free and musical, like a happy soprano limbering up —Harvey Swados
  53. Laughter hung smoke-like in the sudden stillness —Ralph Ellison
  54. Laughter … keeps coming like a poison that must be ejected —Nora Johnson
  55. Laughter leaped suddenly from her throat … then stopped, like something flung away and lost —Graham Swift
  56. Laughter like hiccoughs —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  57. Laughter, light and restrained like the clatter of rolling nuts —Yisrael Zarchi
  58. Laughter lonelier than tears —Anonymous blurb preceding a humorous quote, New York Times Book Review/Noted With Pleasure, September 14, 1986
  59. The laughter of a fool is like that of a horse —Welsh proverb


  60. Laughter roared through the spectators like wind through trees —Gerald Kersh
  61. Laughter spilled out of his prodigious frame like gravel being unloaded from a dump truck —Pat Conroy
  62. A laugh that rippled … like the sound of a hidden brook —O. Henry
  63. A laugh that rumbles like a freight train in the night —Michael Goodwin about sports broadcaster, Steve Zabriskie, New York Times/TV Sports, October 2, 1986
  64. A laugh that unfolds like a head of lettuce —Antler
  65. Let out a cackle of a laugh, like the sound a hen might make if the hen were mad about something —Larry McMurtry
  66. Men who never laugh may have good hearts, but they are deep seated; like some springs, they have their inlet and outlet from below, and show no sparkling bubble on the brim —Josh Billings

    Words originally in Billings’ phonetic dialect are: ‘laff (laugh), ‘hav’ (have), ‘sum’ (some).

  67. A most pleasant laugh, bubbly and controlled, like fine champagne —Margaret Millar
  68. Peal of laughter like the ringing of silvery bells —Nathanial Hawthorne
  69. A queer stage laugh, like the cackle of a baffled villain in a melodrama —Edith Wharton
  70. (Boutin’s mouth opened from ear to ear in) a roar of laughter, like the bursting of a mortar —Honoré de Balzac
  71. She laughed, sounding like a small barking dog —Robert Campbell
  72. She pursed her lips each time she laughed, making laughter seem a gesture of self-control —W. P. Kinsella
  73. A silvery laugh, like a brook running out to meet the river —Mike Fredman
  74. A slow ripple of laughter, like a scattering of autumn leaves —Robert Traver
  75. A snort of a chuckle like a bull-frog —Lawrence Durrell
  76. Some … laugh just as a rat does, who has caught a steel trap, with his tail —Josh Billings

    In the original phonetic dialect this is: “Laff just az a rat duz, who haz caught a steel trap with his tale.”

  77. The sound [of laughter] was like the whirring of an old grandfather clock before it strikes —Frank Swinnerton
  78. Stopped laughing as suddenly as if a set ring had been broken —Loren D. Estleman
  79. A sudden fizz of laughter like soda water —George Garrett
  80. Tittering like a small bird —Beryl Markham
  81. Twinkled like Old King Cole —Donald McCaig
  82. When he laughed, a satyr-like quality suffused his face —Nathaniel Benchley
  83. When she does laugh … it’s like polished crystal, like a stream in the Alps racing over a pebbly bed here below, like … like another simile —Hanoch Bartov

    For anyone interested in multiple similes … here’s the simile itself to round up a medley of comparisons.

  84. When she laughed it was as if a wren sang —Frank Swinnerton
  85. When she was about to laugh, her tone grew higher and melodious, easing into the laugh like a singer easing from recitative to an aria —Lynne Sharon Schwartz
  86. Wrinkles of laughter leaped into sight on his face, like small friendly insects running all over it —Romain Gary
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.laughter - the sound of laughinglaughter - the sound of laughing    
utterance, vocalization - the use of uttered sounds for auditory communication
cachinnation - loud convulsive laughter
cackle - a loud laugh suggestive of a hen's cackle
chortle, chuckle - a soft partly suppressed laugh
giggle - a foolish or nervous laugh
belly laugh, guffaw - a burst of deep loud hearty laughter
ha-ha, haw-haw, hee-haw, horselaugh - a loud laugh that sounds like a horse neighing
snicker, snigger, snort - a disrespectful laugh
titter - a nervous restrained laugh
2.laughter - the activity of laughing; the manifestation of joy or mirth or scorn; "he enjoyed the laughter of the crowd"
activity - any specific behavior; "they avoided all recreational activity"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. chuckling, laughing, giggling, chortling, guffawing, tittering, cachinnation Their laughter filled the corridor.
2. amusement, entertainment, humour, glee, fun, mirth, hilarity, merriment Pantomime is about bringing laughter to thousands.
"If we may believe our logicians, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter" [Joseph Addison]
"The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can't fake it ... try to fake three laughs in an hour - ha ha ha ha ha - they'll take you away, man. You can't" [Lenny Bruce Performing and the Art of Comedy]
"As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool" Bible: Ecclesiastes
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


An act of laughing:
Informal: heehaw.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
tiếng cười


A. N (gen) → risa f, risas fpl; (= guffaws) → risotadas fpl, carcajadas fpl
their laughter could be heard in the next roomse oían sus risas or se les oía reír desde la habitación de al lado
there was loud laughter at this remarkel comentario provocó carcajadas or grandes risas
she let out a shriek of laughtersoltó una sonora carcajada or risotada
to burst into laughtersoltar la carcajada
laughter is the best medicinela risa es el mejor antídoto
see also roar A1, B1
B. CPD laughter lines NPLarrugas fpl producidas al reír
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈlɑːftər] n
(= sound) [person, people] → rires mpl
Their laughter filled the corridor → Le couloir résonnait de leurs rires.
(= laughing) → rire m
Laughter is good for you → Le rire est bon pour la santé.
hysterical laughter → un rire hystérique
to roar with laughter → hurler de rire
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nGelächter nt; laughter broke out among the audiencedas Publikum brach in Gelächter aus; children’s laughterKinderlachen nt; he shook with silent laughterer schüttelte sich vor Lachen; at this there was loud laughterdas rief lautes Gelächter hervor; there was a little nervous laughterein nervöses Lachen war zu hören
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈlɑːftəʳ] nrisata; (laughing) → riso
he roared with laughter → si è fatto una fragorosa risata
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(laːf) verb
to make sounds with the voice in showing happiness, amusement, scorn etc. We laughed at the funny photographs; Children were laughing in the garden as they played.
an act or sound of laughing. He gave a laugh; a loud laugh.
ˈlaughable adjective
1. ridiculous or deserving scorn. Her attempts at drawing were laughable.
2. amusing; comical.
ˈlaughably adverb
ˈlaughingly adverb
as a joke. She suggested laughingly that he should try it himself.
ˈlaughter noun
the act or sound of laughing. We could hear laughter / the sound of laughter from the next room.
ˈlaughing-stock noun
someone who is laughed at. If I wear that hat, I'll be a laughing-stock.
laugh at
to make it obvious that one regards something or someone as humorous, ridiculous or deserving scorn. Everyone will laugh at me if I wear that dress!; The others laughed at his fears.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


ضَحِكٌ smích latter Gelächter γέλιο risas nauru rire smijeh ridere 笑い声 웃음 gelach munterhet śmiech risada смех skratt เสียงหัวเราะ kahkaha tiếng cười 笑声
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n. risa, carcajada.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
And in the roaring, and whistling, and whizzing the coffin burst up, and spouted out a thousand peals of laughter.
She leaned against her mother and burst into such a loud, ringing fit of laughter that even the prim visitor could not help joining in.
Indeed, for some unexplained reason, she was bubbling over with congested laughter, the reason for which mere embarrassment set one inquiring.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers: Then the ominous words "It's a Boo-"
And when you come to read some of the writers of Shakespeare's age and see that in them the laughter is often brutal, the horror of tragedy often coarse and crude, you will wonder more than ever how Shakespeare made his laughter so sweet and sunny, and how, instead of revolting us, he touches our hearts with his horror and pain.
As bad was Harley Kennan's trick of catching him gloriously asleep on an edge of Villa's skirt and of tickling the hair between his toes and making him kick involuntarily in his sleep, until he kicked himself awake to hearing of gurgles and snickers of laughter at his expense.
The jeering cries ended in another burst of shrill laughter.
Professor Erlin classed him with Richard Wagner, but of him he spoke not with anger but with good-humoured laughter. He was a charlatan but a successful charlatan, and in that was always something for the comic spirit to rejoice in.
A chorus of boisterous laughter came from the other rocks, and Dorothy saw hundreds of the armless Hammer-Heads upon the hillside, one behind every rock.
The perfect seriousness with which he narrated his misfortunes convulsed me with laughter, and this added to Mrs.
Her sea-blue eyes were full of soft laughter and allurement.
As he did so, he heard a hearty burst of laughter close to his head.