English edit

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Etymology edit

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From Middle English laughen, laghen, from (Anglian) Old English hlæhhan, hlehhan, (West Saxon) hliehhan, from Proto-West Germanic *hlahhjan, from Proto-Germanic *hlahjaną.

Pronunciation edit

A man laughing.

Noun edit

laugh (plural laughs)

  1. An expression of mirth particular to the human species; the sound heard in laughing; laughter.
    • 1803, Oliver Goldsmith, The Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.B.: With an Account of His Life, page 45:
      And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind.
    • 1869, F. W. Robertson, Lectures and Addresses on Literary and Social Topics, page 87:
      That man is a bad man who has not within him the power of a hearty laugh.
    His deep laughs boomed through the room.
  2. Something that provokes mirth or scorn.
    • 1921, Ring Lardner, The Big Town: How I and the Mrs. Go to New York to See Life and Get Katie a Husband, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, page 73:
      “And this rug,” he says, stomping on an old rag carpet. “How much do you suppose that cost?” ¶ It was my first guess, so I said fifty dollars. ¶ “That’s a laugh,” he said. “I paid two thousand for that rug.”
    • 1979, Monty Python, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life:
      Life's a piece of shit / When you look at it / Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
    Your new hat's an absolute laugh, dude.
  3. (British, New Zealand) A fun person.
    • 2010, The Times, March 14, 2010, Tamzin Outhwaite, the unlikely musical star
      Outhwaite is a good laugh, yes, she knows how to smile: but deep down, she really is strong and stern.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Verb edit

laugh (third-person singular simple present laughs, present participle laughing, simple past and past participle laughed)

  1. (intransitive) To show mirth, satisfaction, or derision, by peculiar movement of the muscles of the face, particularly of the mouth, causing a lighting up of the face and eyes, and usually accompanied by the emission of explosive or chuckling sounds from the chest and throat; to indulge in laughter.
    There were many laughing children running on the school grounds.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively, obsolete) To be or appear cheerful, pleasant, mirthful, lively, or brilliant; to sparkle; to sport.
    • a. 1701 (date written), John Dryden, “Of the Pythagorean Philosophy. From the Fifteenth Book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses”, in The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, [], volume IV, London: [] J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, [], published 1760, →OCLC, page 51:
      The green ſtem grows in ſtature and in ſize, / But only feeds with hope the farmer's eyes; / Then laughs the childiſh year with flow'rets crowned, / And laviſhly prefumes the fields around, / But no ſubſtantial nouriſhment receives, / Infirm the ſtalks, unſolid are the leaves.
    • 1733, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Man. [], epistle II, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wilford, [], →OCLC, page 17:
      In Folly’s Cup ſtill laughs the Bubble, Joy; [...]
  3. (intransitive, followed by "at") To make an object of laughter or ridicule; to make fun of; to deride; to mock.
    Don't laugh at my new hat, man!
    • 1735, Alexander Pope, “Epistle III. To Allen Lord Bathurst.”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume II, London: [] J. Wright, for Lawton Gilliver [], →OCLC, page 23, lines 311–314:
      No Wit to flatter, left of all his ſtore! / No Fool to laugh at, which he valued more. / There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends, / And fame, this lord of uſeleſs, thouſands ends.
    • 1891, Oscar Wilde, chapter IV, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, London, New York, N.Y., Melbourne, Vic.: Ward Lock & Co., →OCLC, page 71:
      There was something about him, Harry, that amused me. He was such a monster. You will laugh at me, I know, but I really went in and paid a whole guinea for the stage-box. To the present day I can't make out why I did so; [...]
    • 1967, The Beatles, Penny Lane:
      On the corner is a banker with a motorcar / The little children laugh at him behind his back
  4. (transitive) To affect or influence by means of laughter or ridicule.
  5. (transitive) To express by, or utter with, laughter.

Usage notes edit

The simple past tense forms laught, laugh'd and low and the past participles laught, laugh'd and laughen also exist, but are obsolete.

Conjugation edit

Synonyms edit

Antonyms edit

  • (antonym(s) of show mirth by peculiar movement of the muscles of the face): cry, weep

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Note: the following were in a translation table for "be or appear gay", which, given the modern meanings, is misleading; the title of this table has now been changed to "be or appear cheerful". The translations therefore need to be checked.

See also edit

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of lawe