How to describe this kind of laugh

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
You find something mildly funny and let out a slight breath through your nose or mouth. How do you say this kind of slient laugh? Thanks
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I usually call them "snorts" if I understand you correctly, Red Giant. They're not totally silent, though. People can hear a small sound when the air comes through your nose or mouth. Is that what you're talking about?
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You can also use "snort" to mean a push of air through the nose expressing amusement, Red Giant. A "snort" describes the sound. It doesn't always mean that somebody feels scorn.

    Because you also mentioned air coming through the mouth, I thought of "sigh", but that really doesn't do a good job of expressing amusement. "Snort" is the best I can come up with.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I don't think of a "breath of air" coming through the nose or mouth when I use "chuckle". A "chuckle" is a quiet laugh, but there's some voice in it. It's not just a breath or snort.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    ...does chuckle need to make noise?
    No, not if his shoulders shook with a soft chuckle. To show that instead of telling that, you could write: "...he softly chuckled, his shoulders shaking with amusement..."

    What you're asking for isn't totally silent. It's soft in sound, but it's there, don't forget.

    I see Owlman and I don't exactly agree. :D

    What makes it work for me is when you take the attention off the laugh itself and put it on another body part. If you've got his shoulders shaking and his eyes twinkling, I could accept a soft chuckle in the mix.

    You could also say his smile was a soft sound that made his shoulders shake and his eyes twinkle in appreciation. Then the reader fills in the blanks with his own imagination.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree that a snort is not necessarily contemptuous, but a sound is usually produced.

    A chuckle, on the other hand, is usually silent.

    A titter is a kind of suppressed laugh.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    No, not if his shoulders shook with a soft chuckle. To show that instead of telling that, you could write: "...he softly chuckled, his shoulders shaking with amusement..."

    What you're asking for isn't totally silent. It's soft in sound, but it's there, don't forget.

    I see Owlman and I don't exactly agree. :D

    What makes it work for me is when you take the attention off the laugh itself and put it on another body part. If you've got his shoulders shaking and his eyes twinkling, I could accept a soft chuckle in the mix.

    You could also say his smile was a soft sound that made his shoulders shake and his eyes twinkle in appreciation. Then the reader fills in the blanks with his own imagination.

    It would seem you are both correct:

    chuckle/ˈtʃʌkl/

    ▶verb laugh quietly or inwardly.
    ▶noun a quiet or suppressed laugh.
    – derivatives
    chuckler noun.
    – origin C16: from chuck meaning ‘to cluck’ in ME.
     
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