Definition of laugh in English:



  • 1Make the spontaneous sounds and movements of the face and body that are the instinctive expressions of lively amusement and sometimes also of contempt or derision.

    ‘she couldn't help laughing at his jokes’
    ‘he laughed out loud’
    with direct speech ‘she laughed, “Not a chance.”’
    • ‘He then laughed in a way that sane people do not laugh and asked for ten male volunteers.’
    • ‘He liked the way sometimes a little crease wrinkled the side of her nose when she laughed.’
    • ‘As we waited to go out again, we sat in a circle, laughed and ate hot cross buns.’
    • ‘Matt almost laughed aloud in spite of himself.’
    • ‘We laughed, we flirted and we agreed to continue having the great talks we have together.’
    • ‘Kate laughed as she looked at him, wondering just what was going through his mind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They really laughed and asked some good questions and most of them bought a book.’
    • ‘He almost laughed out loud at how clumsy he had been at that age.’
    • ‘Will laughed quietly and I looked up to see him nodding, looking at me softly with a smile.’
    • ‘The script had jokes in it, you could tell, but no one laughed because of the timing.’
    • ‘She told me herself and I laughed until my eyes leaked tears and my nose leaked snot.’
    • ‘I laughed all the way through and in the end I left the cinema grinning from ear to ear.’
    • ‘Rarely, he remarked afterwards, had an audience laughed so heartily at his jokes.’
    • ‘Your excitement was infectious as you laughed and gasped as we were whirled and twisted.’
    • ‘The audience laughed lightly at the absurdity of this.’
    • ‘She laughed until the tears attempted to roll up her appley cheeks and she had to beg for mercy.’
    • ‘Amy laughed hysterically at her joke and placed the items on the conveyer belt.’
    • ‘All the kids around the playground laughed hysterically at this pathetic joke.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1laugh at Ridicule; scorn.
      • ‘If your guidance counselor laughs at you because of what your hope for a career is, ignore them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The other driver took my details and he must have been laughing at me as I pulled away - the car was a wreck.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We must not permit the criminals to mock us and to laugh at us when they take advantage of us.’
      • ‘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 plain card laughs at you, symbolically suggesting that it's a fleeting moment of happiness.’
      • ‘I will think of her laughing at the ridiculousness of what we're both doing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now everyone within a ten mile radius laughs at you in the street.’
      • ‘All posts will be treated in the strictest confidence and nobody will laugh at anybody.’
      • ‘I am aided along this expressway to embarrassment by Alec, who either makes things worse or laughs at me.’
    2. 1.2laugh something off Dismiss something embarrassing, unfortunate, or potentially serious by treating it in a lighthearted way or making a joke of it.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Don't rise to their teasing; try and laugh it off or just plain ignore them!’
      • ‘Mention this to the star and he simply laughs it off.’
      • ‘Avoiding, dismissing or laughing them off on a consistent basis means that many important issues go unresolved.’
      • ‘Apologize in a lighthearted way, and laugh it off by turning it into a joke.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She tried to laugh it off dismissively, but her words seemed to pique his interest.’
      • ‘Ordinarily, Alexander's slip in the radio studio would be laughed off as a joke.’
      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’
    • ‘Michael's weak attempt to stifle a laugh was futile.’
    • ‘He had the same lopsided grin he sported to make people laugh at his antics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A laugh came to her eyes, like she was remembering some funny memory.’
    • ‘Max barely stifled an explosive laugh of relief.’
    • ‘He looked back at his friend over his shoulder and laughed a short, hearty laugh.’
    • ‘But his plan became clear as she started bursting out with guffaws and laughs and giggles when he tickled her.’
    • ‘Matt laughed so hard that he snorted and it only made us laugh harder.’
    • ‘Her laugh sounded forced and nervous sometimes, but you could tell the difference.’
    • ‘She laughed a tinkling little laugh, and I wondered if she even knew about Becca.’
    • ‘A nervous little laugh escaped her, to her chagrin.’
    • ‘It was a real laugh, a ha-ha laugh, unlike the fit of hysterics he'd had earlier.’
    • ‘The man's laugh echoed against the metal walls as he left the hanger.’
    • ‘He let out a loud, hearty laugh.’
    • ‘She gave a nervous little laugh, unable to hold his gaze any longer.’
    • ‘All he knew was that that laugh sounded like nothing he had ever heard before.’
    • ‘I gave a mirthless laugh at her joke and continued my search.’
    • ‘Make your own mind up and laugh along the way.’
    • ‘But the laugh sounded false, and she didn't think it was very funny.’
    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.

    ‘she decided to play along with him for a laugh’
    ‘that's a laugh, the idea of you cooking a meal!’
    • ‘He loved to have a laugh, a bit of fun and to have a drink.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Time to actually talk to patients, make a fuss of the kids and have a laugh.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was good to see the crowd stop taking themselves so seriously and have a laugh for once!’
    • ‘He showed his sense of humour and gave the public plenty of laughs along the way.’
    • ‘I have to confess that I always get a good belly laugh out of such nonsense.’
    • ‘We're not as good as some of the other teams, but we have a good laugh.’
    • ‘And now for a good laugh: Andie passes along this gem from the Onion.’
    • ‘I get dressed up and go to work at a pub or a club; I see colleagues and have a laugh.’
    • ‘For audiences, the point of comedy is to have a laugh.’
    • ‘What I miss is being able to relax, see my mates, go for a beer and have a laugh.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was good to talk about it, have a laugh and clear the air.’
    • ‘And there are plenty of laughs along the way to make up for it.’
    • ‘Sometimes, especially when going to bed, it was good just to have a laugh, and forget about the worries of the day.’
    • ‘And nothing cures a cold as efficiently as a good laugh.’
    • ‘And if not, well, at least we can all share a good laugh about it.’
    • ‘After dinner, people swap stories, play music, have a laugh.’
    joke, prank, piece of fun, jest, escapade, adventure, caper, romp, practical joke, trick, bit of mischief
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A person who is good fun or amusing company.
      ‘I like Peter—he's a good laugh’
      • ‘She is a right laugh, imaginative, passionate and most definitely not a worrying stress-head.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She is a good person and a good laugh, and yet she constantly lies.’
      • ‘If he was a bumbling character in a tv comedy he'd be a good laugh.’
      • ‘I got on especially well with Colin, who was friendly and a good laugh.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While in NYC check this bar out, the women are gorgeous and friendly too, and the bar staff are 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.’
      • ‘Despite that, you're a good laugh and fun to be around.’
      joker, comedian, comic, comedienne, humorist, wag, wit, entertainer, clown, funny man, funny woman, jester, prankster, character
      View synonyms


  • laugh all the way to the bank

    • informal Make a great deal of money very easily.

      • ‘Whoever came up with the idea of creating special occasions, such as Father's Day, must be laughing all the way to the bank.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the people who will benefit - the rich - will be 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And it looks like the show's top advertisers are 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.’
      • ‘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 skepticism.

      • ‘I don't know who is having the last laugh on this one.’
      • ‘You have to laugh but she'll have the last laugh when she gets offered all the plum roles as a female pirate.’
      • ‘For years his proudest boast has been that while others have criticised his growth forecasts, he has ended up having the last laugh.’
      • ‘Then he wrote a best-selling book which sounded very much like having the last laugh at his investors' expense.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's also an old master having the last laugh on a movie project that seemed destined to fail.’
      • ‘The problem is that the players are invariably selling themselves short and it is the marketing executives that are having the last laugh.’
      • ‘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’?’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Well all I can say is that in a month we'll see who will be having the last laugh.’
  • laugh one's head off

    • Laugh heartily or uncontrollably.

      • ‘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.

      figurative ‘vandals and muggers who laugh in the face of the law’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I swear fate or something like it was laughing in my 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.’
      • ‘At one audition, the casting director laughed in her face.’
      • ‘The bishop has moral authority over his priests, but if one of them laughs in his face, that moral authority is useless.’
      • ‘This is right by the place where justice is supposed to be served and yet they're laughing in its face.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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, 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.’
  • 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…’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But this person paid in the long run now the laugh is on him.’
  • laugh like a drain

    • informal Laugh raucously.

      • ‘It will, however, almost certainly make you laugh like a drain several times.’
      • ‘I'm laughing like a drain even before he's delivered the punchlines.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It'd make me laugh like a drain if I won, which probably isn't a very good recommendation.’
      • ‘It's so obvious and not even that original but somehow the joke had never occurred to me and I laughed like a drain.’
      • ‘My beloved is going to laugh like a drain when he reads that.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Had I been there I would have laughed like a drain.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘He is a laugh a minute and we are both practical jokers so we got on immediately,’ she said.’
      • ‘The stills from the CD cover alone seem to guarantee a laugh a minute / Halloween costume inspiration entertainment fandango.’
      • ‘Last week's meeting was literally a laugh a minute, with a great turnout once more of both members and guests.’
      • ‘Well, that wasn't exactly a laugh a minute was it?’
      • ‘This movie is cleverly made with a laugh a minute.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The pantomime is a laugh a minute with curly wigs, outrageous costumes, banter and confusion the order of the day.’
      • ‘A veteran of 30 or so such performances, Michael, 37, is guaranteeing a laugh a minute for the diners at the pub/brewery.’
      • ‘Behind its heavy door and a dark glass wall, the formal dining room isn't exactly a laugh a minute.’
      hilarious, uproarious, very funny, very amusing, comical, comic, farcical
      View synonyms
  • laugh someone/something out of court

    • Dismiss with contempt as being obviously ridiculous.

      • ‘Back in May 2002, this proposal was laughed out of court.’
      • ‘Anyone who tried to put it into an election manifesto would be laughed out of court.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ‘scholarship’ used to promote the idea would be laughed out of court if applied to any other ancient book.’
      • ‘It's not too far-fetched to say the paper 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
      View synonyms
  • laugh oneself silly (or sick)

    • Laugh uncontrollably or for a long time.

      • ‘Needless to say, we spent the afternoon laughing ourselves silly.’
      • ‘The author's name has caused untold hilarity among Britain's schoolboy humour forum, and I've laughed myself silly.’
      • ‘All three nearly passed out as they laughed themselves sick.’
      • ‘I can just imagine them laughing themselves sick as they made the burger.’
      • ‘I laughed myself silly over her comparison of children to terrorists, and her tales of her domineering, movie star mother.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I wouldn't say the crowd laughed themselves sick, but I was regretting not bringing the video camera for Kirsty's home videos.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • laugh something to scorn

    • dated Ridicule something.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their stupid opinion is just as valid as the millions of people who laugh this assertion to scorn.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.

      • ‘Deep down, we suspect those we grant our patronage to are secretly laughing up their sleeves at us even as we enrich them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You were laughing up your sleeve at me and all the other kids who you were putting through this Hell.’
      • ‘Some of my pals are starting to wonder if Mother Nature has been laughing up her sleeve at them all this time.’
      • ‘Little did I know at the time how my manager and new co-workers were laughing up their sleeves.’
  • no laughing matter

    • Something serious that should not be joked about.

      ‘heavy snoring is no laughing matter’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘Everyone jokes about piles, even though they ain't no laughing matter.’
      • ‘However, I must say that, you know, I always laugh with him, but his policies are 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It all began as a joke, but the Slow Food movement is no laughing matter.’
      • ‘Well-timed equipment fires may be a standing industry joke, but the reality 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 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.’
      • ‘They played it for laughs, and there were plenty of those.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Learning from experience, we have adopted a highly conservative approach to fiction and mostly play it for laughs.’
      • ‘Instead he plays it for laughs, as perky one-liners replace probing dialogue.’
      • ‘The original surf movies basically played the formula for laughs, with a few cheap thrills mixed in.’
      • ‘Rock seems uneasy carrying a semi-serious role, and can't conceal his natural urge to play every situation for laughs.’
      • ‘Like everyone else, he played the situation for laughs.’
      • ‘And while most of the characters are played for laughs, there are some truly poignant moments in this story.’
  • laugh out of the other side of one's mouth

    • Be discomfited after feeling satisfaction or confidence about something.

      ‘you'd be laughing out the other side of your mouth if we were sitting in jail right now’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And then laughed on the other side of his face when my answer turned out to be correct, ahem.’
      • ‘I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘Mind you, I bet he'll be laughing on the other side of his face when he sees how much I've got.’


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