From Middle English caclen, cakelen. Compare Dutch kakelen (to cackle), German Low German kakeln (to cackle), German kakeln (to blather), Danish kagle (to cackle), Swedish kackla (to cackle). Compare also Old English cahhetan, ċeahhettan (to laugh loudly; cackle), German gackern (to cackle).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkækəl/
  • Rhymes: -ækəl
  • (file)


cackle (countable and uncountable, plural cackles)

  1. The cry of a hen or goose, especially when laying an egg.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 28:
      I heard a grey hen cackling among the ling; I called and thought, "If I could get a sight of you now, it would be your last cackle;" just then I heard something moving behind me on the path.
  2. A laugh resembling the cry of a hen or goose.
  3. Futile or excessively noisy talk.
    • 1930, Frank Richards, The Magnet, All Quiet on the Greyfriars Front
      There's no time to waste on silly cackle.
  4. A group of hyenas.



cackle (third-person singular simple present cackles, present participle cackling, simple past and past participle cackled)

  1. (intransitive) To make a sharp, broken noise or cry, as a hen or goose does.
  2. (intransitive) To laugh with a broken sound similar to a hen's cry.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in The Mirror and the Lamp[1]:
      She was a fat, round little woman, richly apparelled in velvet and lace, […]; and the way she laughed, cackling like a hen, the way she talked to the waiters and the maid, […]—all these unexpected phenomena impelled one to hysterical mirth, and made one class her with such immortally ludicrous types as Ally Sloper, the Widow Twankey, or Miss Moucher.
    The witch cackled evilly.
  3. (intransitive) To talk in a silly manner; to prattle.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Johnson to this entry?)
  4. (transitive, gambling, slang) To pretend to rattle (dice) in one's hand while gripping them so that they maintain their orientation.
    • 1941, Mignon Good Eberhart, The Third Mystery Book: Six Short Mysteries (page 120)
      Danny cackled the dice furiously in his cupped hand, then rolled them so they stopped inches from Slattery's hands. The result was the same as before - a seven.
    • 2015, Jack Engelhard, The Prince of Dice (page 11)
      [] they spun all right, or so it seemed, and hit the wall all right, or so it seemed, but bottom line was this: The stirring of the dice was merely cackling, the cubes artfully framed so that the spots in the kid's fists showed 4‐4 up‐right and weren't really rattled but rather, held in control by the pinky, forefinger and thumb; []



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