Definition of laugh in English:



[no object]
  • 1Make the spontaneous sounds and movements of the face and body that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement and sometimes also of derision.

    ‘he rarely smiled or laughed’
    ‘she couldn't help laughing at his jokes’
    ‘we fell about laughing’
    • ‘Kate laughed as she looked at him, wondering just what was going through his mind.’
    • ‘He then laughed in a way that sane people do not laugh and asked for ten male volunteers.’
    • ‘Your excitement was infectious as you laughed and gasped as we were whirled and twisted.’
    • ‘He almost laughed out loud at how clumsy he had been at that age.’
    • ‘He liked the way sometimes a little crease wrinkled the side of her nose when she laughed.’
    • ‘The audience laughed lightly at the absurdity of this.’
    • ‘All the kids around the playground laughed hysterically at this pathetic joke.’
    • ‘She laughed until the tears attempted to roll up her appley cheeks and she had to beg for mercy.’
    • ‘We laughed, we flirted and we agreed to continue having the great talks we have together.’
    • ‘I told her she had already sent one and she laughed and said her memory was going.’
    • ‘With the tension broken, both men laughed heartily at the thought.’
    • ‘As we waited to go out again, we sat in a circle, laughed and ate hot cross buns.’
    • ‘The script had jokes in it, you could tell, but no one laughed because of the timing.’
    • ‘Rarely, he remarked afterwards, had an audience laughed so heartily at his jokes.’
    • ‘I laughed all the way through and in the end I left the cinema grinning from ear to ear.’
    • ‘Matt almost laughed aloud in spite of himself.’
    • ‘Will laughed quietly and I looked up to see him nodding, looking at me softly with a smile.’
    • ‘They really laughed and asked some good questions and most of them bought a book.’
    • ‘Amy laughed hysterically at her joke and placed the items on the conveyer belt.’
    • ‘She told me herself and I laughed until my eyes leaked tears and my nose leaked snot.’
    chuckle, chortle, guffaw, giggle, titter, snigger, snicker, cackle, howl, roar, tee-hee, burst out laughing, hoot with laughter, roar with laughter, shake with laughter, be convulsed with laughter, dissolve into laughter, split one's sides, hold one's sides, be doubled up
    ridicule, mock, deride, scoff at, jeer at, sneer at, jibe at, make fun of, poke fun at, make jokes about, heap scorn on, scorn, pooh-pooh
    guffaw, chuckle, chortle, cackle, howl, roar, ha-ha, fall about, hoot with laughter, roar with laughter, shake with laughter, be convulsed with laughter, dissolve into laughter, split one's sides, be doubled up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1laugh at Treat with ridicule or scorn.
      ‘many people only laughed at these stories’
      • ‘If your guidance counselor laughs at you because of what your hope for a career is, ignore them.’
      • ‘We must not permit the criminals to mock us and to laugh at us when they take advantage of us.’
      • ‘Now everyone within a ten mile radius laughs at you in the street.’
      • ‘The plain card laughs at you, symbolically suggesting that it's a fleeting moment of happiness.’
      • ‘My husband laughs at me because I put our children's clothes on the radiator to warm in winter but it is a habit I picked up from my mother.’
      • ‘They showed no respect for the fact he is going through a hard time and instead tried to have a cheap laugh at him.’
      • ‘The only problem is that I have to walk with my legs apart and I look like an idiot that way and everyone looks at me and laughs at me.’
      • ‘All posts will be treated in the strictest confidence and nobody will laugh at anybody.’
      • ‘I will think of her laughing at the ridiculousness of what we're both doing.’
      • ‘I am aided along this expressway to embarrassment by Alec, who either makes things worse or laughs at me.’
      • ‘The other driver took my details and he must have been laughing at me as I pulled away - the car was a wreck.’
      • ‘It was a local story that inspired the poem about a drunken farmer who laughs at the devil and only just escapes.’
      • ‘To say that I have found motherhood fulfilling and rewarding is sneered and laughed at.’
    2. 1.2laugh something off Dismiss something by treating it in a light-hearted way.
      ‘he laughed off suggestions that the company was in trouble’
      • ‘He never seems to notice, he shrugs, laughs it off, but she smiles at these women, at every one, she smiles into their eyes.’
      • ‘Probably thinking I hadn't caught the exchange, he shook his head, laughed it off, ‘Never mind.’’
      • ‘Apologize in a lighthearted way, and laugh it off by turning it into a joke.’
      • ‘She tried to laugh it off dismissively, but her words seemed to pique his interest.’
      • ‘When I was a child, if I told my parents I thought they were wrong about whatever they would just shrug and laugh it off, maybe correcting my grammar along the way.’
      • ‘Avoiding, dismissing or laughing them off on a consistent basis means that many important issues go unresolved.’
      • ‘I've tried talking to my parents but they just seem to laugh it off and ignore me saying that I'll feel better tomorrow.’
      • ‘Don't rise to their teasing; try and laugh it off or just plain ignore them!’
      • ‘Ordinarily, Alexander's slip in the radio studio would be laughed off as a joke.’
      • ‘Mention this to the star and he simply laughs it off.’
      dismiss, make a joke of, make light of, refuse to acknowledge, overlook, turn a blind eye to, discount, ignore, disregard, shrug off, brush aside, scoff at, pooh-pooh, take no notice of, pay no attention to, play down, never mind
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3be laughinginformal Be in a fortunate or successful position.
      ‘if next year's model is as successful, Ford will be laughing’


  • 1An act of laughing.

    ‘she gave a loud, silly laugh’
    • ‘Matt laughed so hard that he snorted and it only made us laugh harder.’
    • ‘It was a real laugh, a ha-ha laugh, unlike the fit of hysterics he'd had earlier.’
    • ‘She gave a nervous little laugh, unable to hold his gaze any longer.’
    • ‘I gave a mirthless laugh at her joke and continued my search.’
    • ‘Her laugh sounded forced and nervous sometimes, but you could tell the difference.’
    • ‘But the laugh sounded false, and she didn't think it was very funny.’
    • ‘She laughed a tinkling little laugh, and I wondered if she even knew about Becca.’
    • ‘Max barely stifled an explosive laugh of relief.’
    • ‘A laugh came to her eyes, like she was remembering some funny memory.’
    • ‘But his plan became clear as she started bursting out with guffaws and laughs and giggles when he tickled her.’
    • ‘I have not heard an audience laugh so hard and so long in a movie theater in a long time.’
    • ‘Trying to make the audience laugh is perhaps not much more difficult than trying to explain why it laughs.’
    • ‘Michael's weak attempt to stifle a laugh was futile.’
    • ‘A nervous little laugh escaped her, to her chagrin.’
    • ‘He had the same lopsided grin he sported to make people laugh at his antics.’
    • ‘He looked back at his friend over his shoulder and laughed a short, hearty laugh.’
    • ‘He let out a loud, hearty laugh.’
    • ‘All he knew was that that laugh sounded like nothing he had ever heard before.’
    • ‘Make your own mind up and laugh along the way.’
    • ‘The man's laugh echoed against the metal walls as he left the hanger.’
    chuckle, chortle, guffaw, giggle, titter, ha-ha, tee-hee, snigger, roar of laughter, hoot of laughter, shriek of laughter, peal of laughter, belly laugh
    View synonyms
  • 2a laughinformal Something that causes laughter; a source of fun, amusement, or derision.

    ‘come along, it'll be a laugh’
    ‘she decided to play along with him for a laugh’
    ‘that's a laugh, the idea of you cooking a meal!’
    • ‘I get dressed up and go to work at a pub or a club; I see colleagues and have a laugh.’
    • ‘Kate's the funny, bubbly one in the group, so wherever they go they always have a laugh.’
    • ‘Fun, light spirited and cute, you like to have a laugh, but never take a lot of things seriously.’
    • ‘It was good to talk about it, have a laugh and clear the air.’
    • ‘We're not as good as some of the other teams, but we have a good laugh.’
    • ‘Time to actually talk to patients, make a fuss of the kids and have a laugh.’
    • ‘And nothing cures a cold as efficiently as a good laugh.’
    • ‘For audiences, the point of comedy is to have a laugh.’
    • ‘After dinner, people swap stories, play music, have a laugh.’
    • ‘He loved to have a laugh, a bit of fun and to have a drink.’
    • ‘And there are plenty of laughs along the way to make up for it.’
    • ‘And now for a good laugh: Andie passes along this gem from the Onion.’
    • ‘He showed his sense of humour and gave the public plenty of laughs along the way.’
    • ‘And if not, well, at least we can all share a good laugh about it.’
    • ‘Sometimes, especially when going to bed, it was good just to have a laugh, and forget about the worries of the day.’
    • ‘The head doorman is a bit of joker and you can have a laugh with him but it's not advisable to upset him too much.’
    • ‘Who am I to complain about them, they just wanted a good laugh, and I was glad I provided some entertainment on the last lazy, unproductive Friday.’
    • ‘I have to confess that I always get a good belly laugh out of such nonsense.’
    • ‘It was good to see the crowd stop taking themselves so seriously and have a laugh for once!’
    • ‘What I miss is being able to relax, see my mates, go for a beer and have a laugh.’
    joke, prank, piece of fun, jest, escapade, adventure, caper, romp, practical joke, trick, bit of mischief
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    1. 2.1 A person who is good fun or amusing company.
      ‘I like Peter—he's a good laugh’
      • ‘She looks great without trying too hard, spends her money on fine wine, is a good laugh but likes to read in her spare time and works in a caring profession.’
      • ‘While in NYC check this bar out, the women are gorgeous and friendly too, and the bar staff are a good laugh.’
      • ‘She is a good person and a good laugh, and yet she constantly lies.’
      • ‘I got on especially well with Colin, who was friendly and a good laugh.’
      • ‘I would just like to say what a lovely person Jess is - she really is - and she is a right laugh and can always make people smile when they need to smile.’
      • ‘Despite that, you're a good laugh and fun to be around.’
      • ‘After I got back, I noticed that my friends from Longsight were there, so we went to join them, which was a good decision because Alan, Paul and Colin are a good laugh.’
      • ‘She is a right laugh, imaginative, passionate and most definitely not a worrying stress-head.’
      • ‘If he was a bumbling character in a tv comedy he'd be a good laugh.’
      • ‘Amanda is a good mate, I haven't seen her much but I know she is a laugh and a great mate, and she is a good mate to Sam as well.’
      joker, comedian, comic, comedienne, humorist, wag, wit, entertainer, clown, funny man, funny woman, jester, prankster, character
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  • be away laughing

    • informal Be achieving something with ease.

      ‘with the right tips and tricks, you'll be away laughing’
      • ‘A good greasy feed and bit of ice cream in the morning and I'm away laughing!’
      • ‘Once this is overcome you're away laughing.’
      • ‘They just needed a little bit of motivation, a bit of that experience, and they've been away laughing.’
      • ‘I downloaded my own personal server; I gave the IP number to Walker and we were away laughing.’
      • ‘I was away laughing really, because two of the literature questions were about kid's books!’
  • laugh all the way to the bank

    • informal Make a great deal of money very easily.

      ‘investors in South Wales Electricity were laughing all the way to the bank’
      • ‘At the moment, the big promoters are laughing all the way to the bank as they pay the same flat registration fee, irrespective of the prices they charge and how many tickets they sell.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the people who will benefit - the rich - will be laughing all the way to the bank…’
      • ‘And, if tourists come as thick and fast as those visiting cards, Kerala tourism industry will be laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘For themselves, they're grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, any way that they can, and laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘Whoever came up with the idea of creating special occasions, such as Father's Day, must be laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘Because those of us outside the industry aren't the ones making the money hand over fist and laughing all the way to the bank with the existing system.’
      • ‘And it looks like the show's top advertisers are laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘The real criminals will be laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘Because I think it is important for us to know who is laughing and who is ridiculing the pain and suffering of so many and, most importantly, laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘The Aussies might be crying into their beer over the recent loss of the Ashes to the English cricketers, but they are laughing all the way to the bank with their British investments.’
  • have the last laugh

    • Be finally vindicated, thus confounding earlier scepticism.

      ‘the success of his novel meant he had the last laugh on the Irish literati’
      • ‘It's also an old master having the last laugh on a movie project that seemed destined to fail.’
      • ‘So, with 300 films in five languages to his credit, is he having the last laugh on those who rejected his face as being ‘crude and harsh’?’
      • ‘According to government statistics, 70 people are killed and 250,000 are injured doing DIY each year - so you'll be the one having the last laugh when he's wheeled off to casualty.’
      • ‘Well all I can say is that in a month we'll see who will be having the last laugh.’
      • ‘You have to laugh but she'll have the last laugh when she gets offered all the plum roles as a female pirate.’
      • ‘The problem is that the players are invariably selling themselves short and it is the marketing executives that are having the last laugh.’
      • ‘For years his proudest boast has been that while others have criticised his growth forecasts, he has ended up having the last laugh.’
      • ‘‘I couldn't believe I had scored a goal like that and I couldn't stop laughing but I suppose Rangers had the last laugh,’ he said afterwards.’
      • ‘I don't know who is having the last laugh on this one.’
      • ‘Then he wrote a best-selling book which sounded very much like having the last laugh at his investors' expense.’
  • he who laughs last laughs longest

    • proverb Don't rejoice too soon, in case your delight at your own good fortune is premature.

      • ‘Keep on laughing, but remember the old adage, ‘he who laughs last, laughs longest’.’
      • ‘Just remember, he who laughs last, laughs longest.’
      • ‘‘One thing I am clear about, though, is that he who laughs last, laughs longest,’ he said.’
  • laugh one's head off

    • Laugh heartily or uncontrollably.

      ‘the audience laughed its head off all the way through the show’
      • ‘All I can say about that one is that I am laughing my head off!’
      • ‘He laughed his head off; and sure enough thought it was soo funny that he called anybody to let them know.’
  • laugh in someone's face

    • Show open contempt for someone by laughing rudely at them in their presence.

      ‘I remonstrated with him but he just laughed in my face’
      figurative ‘vandals and muggers who laugh in the face of the law’
      • ‘This is right by the place where justice is supposed to be served and yet they're laughing in its face.’
      • ‘At one audition, the casting director laughed in her face.’
      • ‘I swear fate or something like it was laughing in my face.’
      • ‘If you'd walked up to me over a year ago and said I will be going to the gym twice a week within a few months, I would have laughed in your face.’
      • ‘If anyone had told me in 2002 that I'd be sat at this computer writing about how I had overcome crippling self-doubt, anxiety, and low self-esteem I would have laughed in their face.’
      • ‘If, ten years ago, someone had said that I'd be writing sentences that like I would have laughed in their face in a cynically and postmodernly way, in keeping with my cool, confident image.’
      • ‘When he excitedly told me about his new job three weeks ago - earning £12k less than me - I didn't laugh in his face and wave my payslip in his face.’
      • ‘The bishop has moral authority over his priests, but if one of them laughs in his face, that moral authority is useless.’
      • ‘Rose was so furious that this man had the nerve to steal her away from her friends and family, stuff her in a crate, only to open it a while later and laugh in her face.’
      • ‘And this time, instead of having the feeling of one person looking at you, it seemed like the whole world was staring and laughing in my face.’
  • the laugh is on me (or you, him, etc.)

    • The tables are turned and now the other person is the one who appears ridiculous.

      ‘all the critics had laughed at him—well, the laugh was on them now’
      • ‘Actually, the laugh is on me, because when I first read the question, I thought it was meant to be a political debate…’
      • ‘My own marriage give me lots of material for my cartoons, but, unfortunately, my wife is so great that most of the time, the laugh is on me.’
      • ‘I sincerely hope the laugh is on him this time, permanently, but he has shown an uncanny ability to worm his way out of trouble and I'm afraid he'll do it again.’
      • ‘But this person paid in the long run now the laugh is on him.’
  • laugh like a drain

    • informal Laugh raucously.

      ‘when I told her I fancied her, she laughed like a drain’
      • ‘It's so obvious and not even that original but somehow the joke had never occurred to me and I laughed like a drain.’
      • ‘I'm laughing like a drain even before he's delivered the punchlines.’
      • ‘It will, however, almost certainly make you laugh like a drain several times.’
      • ‘Had I been there I would have laughed like a drain.’
      • ‘Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit but these had me and The Doctor laughing like a drain in bed last night.’
      • ‘If such infantile hyperbole doesn't have you laughing like a drain, you haven't a hope of wading through this somewhat too hefty book.’
      • ‘My beloved is going to laugh like a drain when he reads that.’
      • ‘It'd make me laugh like a drain if I won, which probably isn't a very good recommendation.’
      • ‘A friend of mine in her 50s who was active in the women's movement through the 70s laughed like a drain when I told her that.’
      • ‘He thought this was a very funny and laughed like a drain.’
      chuckle, chortle, guffaw, giggle, titter, snigger, snicker, cackle, howl, roar, tee-hee, burst out laughing, hoot with laughter, roar with laughter, shake with laughter, be convulsed with laughter, dissolve into laughter, split one's sides, hold one's sides, be doubled up
      View synonyms
  • a laugh a minute

    • Very funny.

      ‘it's a laugh a minute when Lois gets together with her dad’
      • ‘A veteran of 30 or so such performances, Michael, 37, is guaranteeing a laugh a minute for the diners at the pub/brewery.’
      • ‘The stills from the CD cover alone seem to guarantee a laugh a minute / Halloween costume inspiration entertainment fandango.’
      • ‘Well, that wasn't exactly a laugh a minute was it?’
      • ‘We've been over to Grandma's today, her memory is on the wane a little these days, bless her, but she really is a laugh a minute and we never have a dull time when we visit.’
      • ‘This will be the group's 15th production and all who come along are guaranteed value for money and a laugh a minute into the bargain.’
      • ‘This movie is cleverly made with a laugh a minute.’
      • ‘‘He is a laugh a minute and we are both practical jokers so we got on immediately,’ she said.’
      • ‘I think the decision to throw Ricky and me together throughout the series was a fantastic idea and it has been a laugh a minute.’
      • ‘Behind its heavy door and a dark glass wall, the formal dining room isn't exactly a laugh a minute.’
      • ‘Last week's meeting was literally a laugh a minute, with a great turnout once more of both members and guests.’
      • ‘The pantomime is a laugh a minute with curly wigs, outrageous costumes, banter and confusion the order of the day.’
      hilarious, uproarious, very funny, very amusing, comical, comic, farcical
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  • laugh on the other side of one's face

    • Be discomfited after feeling satisfaction or confidence about something.

      • ‘Mind you, I bet he'll be laughing on the other side of his face when he sees how much I've got.’
      • ‘Give him a health problem that stopped him from getting all that exercise through no fault of his own and he'd be laughing on the other side of his face.’
      • ‘I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face.’
      • ‘The right honourable gentleman opposite is a very naughty man, and he will laugh on the other side of his face when my ship comes in.’
      • ‘She will laugh on the other side of her face in 2 years' time.’
      • ‘Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face.’
      • ‘I was laughing on the other side of my face when they suggested that I do a guest editing spot - that'll teach me!’
      • ‘And then laughed on the other side of his face when my answer turned out to be correct, ahem.’
  • laugh someone/something out of court

    • Dismiss with contempt as being obviously ridiculous.

      ‘an application for a course in ‘paintball combat’ was laughed out of court’
      • ‘The ‘scholarship’ used to promote the idea would be laughed out of court if applied to any other ancient book.’
      • ‘He said if he took it to court, given the circumstances, he would be laughed out of court and would have a hard time even finding anyone to take the case.’
      • ‘‘Whenever there has been public scrutiny, their evidence has been laughed out of court,’ he says.’
      • ‘I suspect that they dare not make the threat plainly because they know they would be laughed out of court.’
      • ‘‘It's 23 years since I came to this council with this suggestion, but it was laughed out of court,’ he said.’
      • ‘If a burglar who meticulously planned and executed a bank robbery tried to argue that he was not responsible because of damage to his prefrontal cortex, he would be laughed out of court.’
      • ‘However, if any one of these players had claimed that they were entitled to aim sectarian abuse at opposition fans or spit on the scarf of an opposition fan, they would be laughed out of court.’
      • ‘Anyone who tried to put it into an election manifesto would be laughed out of court.’
      • ‘It's not too far-fetched to say the paper was laughed out of court.’
      • ‘Back in May 2002, this proposal was laughed out of court.’
      deride, be contemptuous about, hold in contempt, treat with contempt, heap scorn on, pour scorn on, be scornful about, look down on, look down one's nose at, disdain, curl one's lip at, mock, scoff at, sneer at, sniff at, jeer at, laugh at, laugh out of court
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  • laugh oneself silly (or sick)

    • Laugh uncontrollably or for a long time.

      ‘the audience was laughing themselves silly’
      • ‘I laughed myself silly over her comparison of children to terrorists, and her tales of her domineering, movie star mother.’
      • ‘All three nearly passed out as they laughed themselves sick.’
      • ‘When my vision finally cleared enough to get a good look at the culprit, I focused in on the store manager who was laughing herself silly.’
      • ‘Jon and I have been watching this show every week with splendid abandon, laughing ourselves silly at a safe distance.’
      • ‘By now he was laughing himself silly on the other end.’
      • ‘He seemed to be laughing himself silly at some of the jokes at his expense, but it may be that he's a good enough actor to fake enjoyment.’
      • ‘The author's name has caused untold hilarity among Britain's schoolboy humour forum, and I've laughed myself silly.’
      • ‘I wouldn't say the crowd laughed themselves sick, but I was regretting not bringing the video camera for Kirsty's home videos.’
      • ‘I can just imagine them laughing themselves sick as they made the burger.’
      • ‘Needless to say, we spent the afternoon laughing ourselves silly.’
  • laugh something to scorn

    • dated Ridicule something.

      ‘she laughed their gossip to scorn’
      • ‘He seems always to be using the same terms for the same things; so that anyone inexpert and thoughtless might laugh his speeches to scorn.’
      • ‘Their stupid opinion is just as valid as the millions of people who laugh this assertion to scorn.’
      • ‘Every paid-up Postmodernist knows how to laugh this doctrine to scorn; it is just that most of them disastrously throw out Orwell's politics of lucidity along with it.’
      • ‘He told me that they had all laughed the comment to scorn, but that now he had been somewhere with no decent plumbing he had to conclude that it was the simple truth.’
      mock, make fun of, laugh at, make jokes about, ridicule, jeer at, sneer at, deride, treat with contempt, treat contemptuously, scorn, laugh to scorn, scoff at, pillory, be sarcastic about, satirize, lampoon, burlesque, parody, tease, taunt, rag, make a monkey of, chaff, jibe at
      View synonyms
  • laugh up one's sleeve

    • Be secretly or inwardly amused.

      ‘he must have been laughing up at his sleeve all the time I was interviewing him’
      • ‘And I am afraid I also must laugh up my sleeve at this poor reader.’
      • ‘His attack must have had the devil laughing up his sleeve.’
      • ‘The woman at the kiosk, who in hindsight clearly didn't give a damn about the cinema ratings system let him through and must have been laughing up her sleeve at us.’
      • ‘Some of my pals are starting to wonder if Mother Nature has been laughing up her sleeve at them all this time.’
      • ‘You were laughing up your sleeve at me and all the other kids who you were putting through this Hell.’
      • ‘Little did I know at the time how my manager and new co-workers were laughing up their sleeves.’
      • ‘Deep down, we suspect those we grant our patronage to are secretly laughing up their sleeves at us even as we enrich them.’
      • ‘In any case, the counterrevolution will be a long one, affording us many, many opportunities to be outraged while laughing up our sleeves at the spectacle.’
  • no laughing matter

    • Something serious that should not be joked about.

      ‘heavy snoring is no laughing matter’
      • ‘The butt of many a joke, I soon discover that for the sufferers it is no laughing matter.’
      • ‘Stalking is no laughing matter, especially when a crazy person is threatening to make Welsh rabbit out of one of our national treasures.’
      • ‘However the problem of alcohol abuse in Scotland is no laughing matter as it is a major health and social problem that should be addressed seriously.’
      • ‘The eerie silence made him look, at moments, like a stand-up comic whose jokes were falling flat; but of course this was no laughing matter.’
      • ‘However, I must say that, you know, I always laugh with him, but his policies are no laughing matter.’
      • ‘Well-timed equipment fires may be a standing industry joke, but the reality is no laughing matter.’
      • ‘Everyone jokes about piles, even though they ain't no laughing matter.’
      • ‘It all began as a joke, but the Slow Food movement is no laughing matter.’
      • ‘The troops like to joke that every chapatti they eat costs 40 rupees but winter life on the heights is no laughing matter.’
      • ‘Maggie couldn't joke about her face; it was no laughing matter.’
  • play something for laughs

    • (of a performer) try to arouse laughter in an audience, especially in inappropriate circumstances.

      ‘he played everything for laughs, especially if there were girls around’
      • ‘The original surf movies basically played the formula for laughs, with a few cheap thrills mixed in.’
      • ‘The director encouraged me to play the part for laughs, and so a character developed which was effectively a satire on all my adolescent neuroses.’
      • ‘They feel that I want to play certain scenes for laughs rather than emphasising the seriousness of the situation.’
      • ‘Rock seems uneasy carrying a semi-serious role, and can't conceal his natural urge to play every situation for laughs.’
      • ‘They played it for laughs, and there were plenty of those.’
      • ‘Like everyone else, he played the situation for laughs.’
      • ‘He thought if you're going to act the fool - and he did in one sense, he had that sort of clownish character - then you had got to play it for laughs.’
      • ‘And while most of the characters are played for laughs, there are some truly poignant moments in this story.’
      • ‘Instead he plays it for laughs, as perky one-liners replace probing dialogue.’
      • ‘Learning from experience, we have adopted a highly conservative approach to fiction and mostly play it for laughs.’


Old English hlæhhan, hliehhan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German lachen, also to laughter.