Vocabulary Builder: Words for laughing

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Boff 

When delivering a punch line, comedic performers want nothing more than to elicit a boff. This term, which means “a loud hearty laugh” in the above example, can also mean “to cause to be overcome with laughter” and “a joke or humorous line.” Boff arose in the entertainment industry in the mid-1900s, probably as a shortening of the word boffo meaning “a joke or punch line.” The similar-sounding Italian word buffo translates to “funny; comical” and shares a root with the term buffoon.

Titter 

Far from a belly laugh or a hearty guffaw, a titter is a nervous or self-conscious laugh. To titter is “to laugh in a restrained, self-conscious, or affected way as from nervousness or in ill-suppressed amusement.” The origin of this word is unclear, but etymologists point to the Swedish term tittra meaning “to giggle,” as well as the word tittle meaning “to whisper” or, more specifically “to tell on or whisper gossip” as possible linguistic ancestors.

Giggle 

Before English speakers were tittering, they were giggling. A giggle is “a silly spasmodic laugh, especially with short, repeated gasps and titters, as from juvenile or illconcealed amusement or nervous embarrassment.” The word is thought to be imitative in origin, echoing the sound of such laughter. Be careful not to confuse a case of the giggles with a case of the giggs; the latter has been used to describe a mouth disease in horses.

Yuk 

The origins of the word yuk, as in “The audience really yukked it up at the movie,” are a bit of a mystery. The similar-sounding yock, theater slang for “a laugh,” appeared in the US in the late 1930s. The comedic yuk, sometimes spelled yuck, meaning “to laugh or joke” appeared in the 1960s, right around the time that English speakers began using it as an exclamation of disgust.

Snicker 

The word snicker, meaning “to laugh in a half-suppressed, indecorous or disrespectful manner,” has been around since the late 1600s. Like many words on this list, this one is thought to be imitative of the sound of laughter. It is one of several words beginning with s used to refer to laughter more mocking and suppressed in nature than gleeful and boisterous; others include snirtle, snigger, and sneer.

Heehaw 

If the words we use to describe laughter are any indication, it would seem that a good episode of laughter reduces us to our animal natures, leaving us howling, snorting, and roaring. The term heehaw entered English in the early 1800s as a term for the loud braying sound a donkey makes and shortly thereafter picked up the sense of “a loud laugh reminiscent of a neighing horse.”

Cachinnate 

If you (or someone you know) consistently turns heads with your stentorian laughter, you may be a cachinnator. To cachinnate is “to laugh loudly or immoderately.” The term is thought to be imitative in origin, and can be traced to the Latin cachinnāre. The similar-sounding cackle, meaning “to laugh in a shrill, broken manner” is etymologically unrelated to cachinnate. It first entered English as a word for the sound a hen or goose makes, later picking up a sense of “to laugh in a shrill, broken manner.”

source: dictionary.com

1. If you are happy and you know it…. which “laughing” words can you use?

2. Which “laughing” words would you use when you’re not so happy but you laugh for other reasons?

Key

1. boff, belly laugh, yuk, yuck, yock, heehaw, stentorian laughter, cachinnation, cackle

2. guffaw, titter, giggle, snicker, snirtle, sneer,

Laughing vocabulary

boff

hahota

belly laugh

éktelen röhögés

guffaw

csúfosan hahotázás/röhögés

titter

kuncogás, ideges nevetés

giggle

kuncogás

yuk, yuck, yock

hahota, kacagás

snicker

vihogás, röhögés

snirtle

fújtatva/prüszkölve nevetés

snigger

vihogás, kacarászás

sneer

gúnyos vigyor/mosoly

heehaw

hangos nevetés

stentorian laughter

harsogva nevetés

cachinnation

nyerítve nevetés, röhögés

cackle

vihogás

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Vocabulary

to elicit

előhívni, kiváltani

hearty

kiadós

shortening

rövidítés

root

gyökér

buffoon

bohóc, pojáca

self-conscious

feszélyezett, kényszeredett

restrained

visszafojtott

nervousness

idegesség

ill-suppressed

rosszul leplezett

ancestor

ős

spasmodic

szaggatott, görcsös

gasp

levegőért kapkodás

juvenile

fiatalkori

ill-concealed

rosszul leplezett

embarrassment

zavar

exclamation

felkiáltás

disgust

undor, undorodás

indecorous

illetlen, nem ildomos

disrespectful

tiszteletlen

mocking

gúnyos

gleeful

jókedvű, vidám

boisterous

hangos, féktelen

to howl

üvölteni, ordítani, harsogva nevetni

to snort

felhorkanni, prüszkölni

to roar

bőgni, bömbölni

braying

ordítás

reminiscent of

valamire emlékeztető

neighing

nyerítő

goose

liba

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