Posted On January 18, 2018 by Print This Post

50+ Synonyms for Laugh by Ginger Monette

How many times have you scrambled to come up with a new way of describing something that happens a lot? You don’t want anything too exotic, just…a little different. Ginger Monette joins us today to expand our vocabulary when it comes to laughter.

Laugh. Our characters do it—a lot.


Unfortunately there are very few good” synonyms for laugh. Laugh” and “chuckle” are about it.

But thankfully we aren’t limited to those two words.

By adding an adjective or choosing a different word/phrase, we can help our readers:

  • Hear” the laugh (A hyena-like cackle sounds much different than a listless snort.)
  • Picture the character (A man guffawing “looks” different than a girl giggling.)
  • Perceive the character’s attitude (A wry laugh reveals a very different attitude than a nervous titter.)

To help me convey just the right nuance of laughter in my own writing, I began compiling a list of creative descriptions of laughter several years ago. Today I’ll share my list along with an excerpt where I applied it when I needed show my couple progressing from a snigger all the way to collapsing into spasms of laughter” twice in a row.

A special thanks to Denise Hunter, Renee Beyea, Karen Witmeyer, Noelle Adams, EE Burke, and Katy Regnery whose stories provided the majority of these descriptions. Their descriptive language and consistently entertaining romances impress me every time I read their stories.

Creative Descriptions of Laughter

Barest hint of a laugh:






-Huff a listless snort

-Huff a laugh

-Snort—“Buck snorted a derisive laugh.”

-Listless snort

-Muffled bellow

-Harrumphed a laugh or harrumph of laughter

-“…a huff of laughter puffing out the side of his mouth.”


Tiny or restrained laugh



-“Girlish giggles burbled from his sister.”

-“Her cheeks quivered and she tried to restrain herself, but a hiccup of humor slipped out and then another.

-“He strangled on a burst of laughter and managed to give her a cool glare.”

-“A giggle worked its way up.”

-“A bubble of laughter slipped out as she….”

-A chuckle bubbled out.


Sudden burst of laughter:

-Crack of laughter

-A burst of laughter

-Her laughter broke free / broke into laughter

-Barked a laugh

-“A spurt of laughter escaped her, and she spotted the answering twinkle in his eyes.”

-“A soft laugh slipped out.”

-Shriek of laughter

-“She jumped at his outburst of laughter.”

-“The room exploded in laughter.”


Happy mood implying laughter:

-Her voice was bright with merriment

-Giddy with laughter

-Giggles peppered her words

-“…bubbles of delight effervescing in her middle…”

-“A spark of humor crinkled the skin around Ben’s mouth.” [Shows effect of humor on face]



-[She laughed and…] “The bell-like sound washed over him in delightful waves.”

-“She breathed a laugh.”

-“Burst of hyena-like laughter.”

-“A chuckle purred in his chest.”

-“…and released a mirthless chuckle.”

-“He gave a wry laugh.”

-“A nervous laugh slipped out.”

-Nervous titter.

-“Dave eased into a few chuckles, too.”

-Humorless laugh


-Twittering laugh

-Sharp laugh

-“…his shoulders bouncing on a chuckle.” [A man is walking away laughing, and this is what the other character observes.]

-“…he crowed.”


-Crack up


Hearty laugh:



-Howl with laughter

-“He laughed a deep chuckle….. Joanna’s soft chimes added to the music.”  [An interesting way to say she laughed back. Chimes is not laughing, but it’s clear what author is trying to convey.]

-[The hall] echoed with laughter

-“A chuckle rumbled deep in his throat.”

-Rumbling with chuckles

-Deep belly laugh


Full-blown sustained laughter:

-Dissolve into laughter

-Burst out laughing

-Howl with laughter

-Roared with laughter

-Laugh uncontrollably /uncontrollable laughter

-Be in stitches

-Side-splitting laugh

-Waves of laughter

-Overwhelmed / consumed with laughter

-Caught up / lost in a fit of laughter

-“And she was gone, laughing so hard she had to sit down.

-“She tried to poise herself, but she was so consumed / overwhelmed with laughter, she couldn’t regain her balance.” [This one ‘shows’ the laughter by showing how it affects what she is doing]

-Launched him into / he collapsed into a spasm/fit of laughter

-He doubled over with laughter

-He laughed so hard his stomach/chest/sides ached

-“Laughter shook her body and him by proximity.”

-“…unbridled hilarity.”

-“…she collapsed into gales / peals of laughter”

-“Shook with silent laughter.” [My husband does this—often making a little wheezing sound. Then when the spasm has passed, he often claps his hands, and makes some comment about the situation]
Hopefully this list will help you find just the right words to express the sound, image, and attitude of your character’s laugh and add lively vibrance to your writing.


What other colorful words or phrases do you use to convey “laughter?” (Scroll down to read the excerpt described above.)


The Darcy’s Hope Saga: Beauty from Ashes and Donwell Abbey


Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside literature’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You’ll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences amidst the carnage of war.


“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature.”   ~Austenesque Reviews, 2016


-Video Trailer:




Ginger Monette currently writes riveting romances inspired by Donwton Abbey and Jane Austen. Her use of compelling plot, vivid historical detail, and deep point of view has earned her Darcy’s Hope Saga numerous 2016 & 2017 “Blogger Favorite” awards and stellar reviews from readers. Living in Charlotte, NC, Ginger enjoys Pilates, period and Turkish dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

-Twitter: @GMonetteAuthor
-Facebook: Love Period Drama, Downton Abbey, or Jane Austen? Join Ginger on Facebook at Ginger Monette Author.


Excerpt: From Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey. Chapter 36

(Darcy is blind.) 


“Well, congratulations.”

“For what?”

“Successfully rowing across the pond.”

Darcy chuckled. “So you’ll allow me to partake in your culinary indulgence?” He let the oars drag in the water to still the boat.

“I promised I would.” She shuffled in the hamper at her feet, then touched his hand.

He took the moist square she offered and brought it to his nose. “Lemon squares.” He took a bite, savouring the gooey confectionery. “Delicious.” He took another bite and licked the powdered sugar from his lips.

She sniggered.

Am I funny?” He popped the last of it into his mouth.

She stifled a giggle.

“What?” He sniggered with her.

“Y-your cheek.” The words came out on a titter, then she burst out laughing.

He swiped at his cheek and found a trace of lemony goo. Was that so funny?He was chuckling too.

D-do you remember the ca-carrots?” She worked to draw a breath. “And the ro-roast beef?” She finally choked out the words.

“When I lost my temper?” He laughed harder.

“Yes!” she finally blurted.

He joined her in a hearty chortle.

“I’m sorry.” She was finally able to speak. “At the time, it wasn’t funny at all, but that smeared lemon made me think of the squashed carrots on the floor.” She released a gusty sigh, but then a new giggle slipped out.

“What is it now?”

“You missed a spot,” she tittered.

“Where?” He swiped again.

Her laughter broke free again, At the cor—.” She couldn’t finish.

He licked his lips, but she only laughed harder.

“Where?” He chuckled.

“R-right” — the boat shimmied — “here—. Ahh!”

He stiffened as the boat wobbled violently, and then her laughter was in his face and her body sagging against his.

He collapsed into a spasm of laughter along with her as she tried to shore up her limbs in the rocking boat, but she was so consumed with laughter, she couldn’t right herself.

Finding her waist with his hands, he steadied her on his knee, their chuckles finally subsiding.

“I’m so sorry.” Her voice was still bright with mirth as her hands found his shoulders. “If you’ll kindly lend a hand, I’ll retrieve my seat.”




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3 Responses to “50+ Synonyms for Laugh by Ginger Monette”

  1. Ginger – Thanks so much for creating this thesaurus of laughter.

    I’m curious if there are other words that have caused problems for writers. “Look” is one of my personal pet peeves. “He looked” or “she looked” just sounds so boring, but it’s difficult to find a replacement that isn’t too fancy or flowery.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | January 19, 2018, 12:09 pm
    • Thanks! Glad you found it helpful.

      I generally try to avoid “look” all together. For example, if I were going to say, “He looked at the stars twinkling in the night sky,” I would try to turn the object of the sentence into more of a subject. “He tipped his chin up, marvelling at the stars twinkling in the night sky.” The tipping chin and marvelling imply he had to look to see it : )

      Now that you mention it, I’ve been toying with writing an article about this too! The words realize, saw, feel, and heard also fit into the same category.

      Posted by Ginger Monette | January 19, 2018, 1:38 pm
  2. Aaargh! Why does English have to be such a complicated language? I wonder if authors who write in other languages have similar word problems?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | January 19, 2018, 9:55 pm

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