Let's talk about laughter!


Can you talk about different types of laughter in English?

Light laughter

To giggle

If someone giggles, they laugh quietly. Teenage girls known for giggling together (I definitely did!). It’s often associated with something silly or embarrassing.

The girls giggled together as they ate their lunch.

 To chuckle

 Chucking is a quiet kind of laughter that someone does privately or inwardly. I associate this kind of laughter with men in their later years (although I’m not sure why!)

 ‘Paul and John chuckled as they remembered their time at university.”

Strong laughter

Give someone the giggles

If someone ‘gives you the giggles’, they make you laugh a lot. When I was growing up, me and my friend Kathy used to give each other the giggles a lot and we would end up holding our stomachs begging each other to stop because we were laughing so much!

“You gave me the giggles and I can’t stop laughing!”

to howl

Laughing loudly can be described as ‘howling!’ This is the sound that wolves make and it can also be used to describe someone crying! You can say that they were laughing so much they were ‘howling’ or that they were ‘howling with laughter.’

‘We were howling with laughter as we watched the film

To laugh your head off

When you laugh really hard for a long time, you can say that you ‘laughed your head off’. This sounds quite funny now that I think about it but it is quite a common expression!

“I laughed my head off at that scene in the film.”

A chortle

You can describe a loud, happy laugh as a ‘chortle.’ This isn’t a very common word and I don’t use it but maybe you’ll come across it someday….

 He chortled at his own joke

A gaffaw

Another way to describe a loud laugh is a ‘gaffaw’. This word is definitely used in writing more than speaking.

There was a gaffaw of laughter and applause as he jumped off the stage.


To shriek

If someone laughs in quite a high pitched way, like a scream you can say that they are ‘shrieking!” This kind of laughter is definitely more associated with women than men. This makes me smile just thinking about it!

Joanna shrieked with laughter as the comedian made another joke.

To snort

Although this verb can be used to talk about cocaine, people also sometimes ‘snort’ when they laugh. This is when you make a loud sound like a pig, through your noise!

 She was laughing so much she snorted and then everyone else laughed even more!


To Laugh out loud

Laughing out loud is quite self-explanatory and means that someone makes a noise when they laugh, rather than just laughing to themselves. If you’ve ever wondered what LOL means online or in text message now you know!

She laughed out loud when he told her the news.

To burst out laughing


When someone bursts out laughing, they laugh quite suddenly. This is a very common expression.

 They all burst out laughing at his joke.

Laughter at others

To snigger

Sniggering isn’t a very nice kind of laughter Similarly to giggling it is associated with teenagers and people laugh in this way when they are laughing at someone, perhaps because that person has done something embarrassing.

 They sniggered at the man at the man as he tripped over the step.

To find something very funny so that you laugh a lot

 To find something amusing

Something that makes you laugh you laugh or smile can be described as amusing. This word usually describes something that is quite funny rather than very funny.

“It’s an amusing programme (tv)”

To find something hilarious

Something that is hilarious, it is extremely funny and you’ll be on the floor laughing!

“The best man’s speech was hilarious!”

To find something hysterical

Something that is hysterical, it is very very funny.

 “I loved that part of the film! It was absolutely hysterical!”

So, these are some of the words and terms that you can talk about laughter! Maybe you know some more words or let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.