What a laugh!

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2008, 12:00am

Did you know that it takes 13 muscles to smile and 39 to frown? Smile, everyone!

What is laughter?

Complete this passage by choosing the correct word from the brackets.

What makes you (laughed / laugh)? Humans love to laugh and everybody's sense of (human / humour) is different. Statistics show that, on average, an adult laughs about ( 17 / 70) times a day.

Laughter is so important to the human race that thousands of people all over the world (lose / earn) their living making us laugh.

Laughter is a big industry. Movies, television (news programmes / sit-coms) and stand-up comedians all try to make us laugh. Human beings are the only (mammals / people) that laugh and each of us laughs at different things. Laughter is a very (silly / complicated) business, as any comedy writer will tell you. How do you write (tragedy / comedy) that makes everyone laugh?

They say that 'Laughter is the best medicine' and there is evidence that laughing does improve your (stress / health). So, what are you waiting for? Have a (laughter / laugh) and you will feel much better.

Different laughs

Here are 10 different ways of laughing. Match up the verbs on the left to their meanings on the right.

1 chuckle

2 giggle

3 snigger

4 hoot

5 cackle

6 chortle

7 guffaw

8 titter

9 fall about

10 double up

a. to laugh unkindly at someone or at what someone has said

b. to laugh in a noisy, overly happy way

c. to laugh shrilly and sound like a chicken making a noise

d. to laugh very noisily

e. to laugh quietly

f. to laugh nervously at something you should not be laughing at

g. to laugh in a silly or childlike way

h. to make a short, loud, high laughing sound

i. to laugh so much your body bends over forward

j. to laugh so much you are in danger of falling over

Fill in the gaps

Replace the words in brackets with a single verb. Note that all the verbs are in the past tense.

11 Paul (laughed very unkindly) when Joe said that Minnie was attractive.

12 John (laughed so much his body bent forward) when Pete told that joke about Harry Potter.

13 The group of women in the corner (laughed shrilly and sounded like chickens) when Mrs Chan told them the news.

14 We all (laughed quietly) when Mr Jones fell over in front of the whole class.

15 Mum (laughed in a childlike way) when Dad told her his boss had had a tattoo.

16 Kate (made a short, high, loud laughing sound) with surprise when she opened the letter.

17 All the boys (laughed in a noisy, overly happy way) when Bobby banged his head.

18 Tom (laughed nervously) when Mum said she had found some love letters in a box under his bed.

19 That movie was so funny! We (laughed so much we almost fell over) all the way through.

20 Dad (laughed very noisily) when we told him Harry and Mandy had got married.

What's funny?

21 What is a 'funny farm'?

a. an unkind name for a hospital for mentally ill patients

b. a farm for strange animals

22 Where is your 'funny bone'?

a. the bone at the end of your big toe

b. the end of the elbow which hurts when you knock it

23 If someone says 'I'm feeling a bit funny', what do they mean?

a. they are feeling a bit ill

b. they are feeling a bit tired

24 What is 'funny business'?

a. a joke that makes everyone laugh

b. a dishonest action meant to trick someone

25 When would you say, 'It's a funny old world!'?

a. when someone has told you something strange and you want to say you are surprised

b. when someone has insulted you and you want to say you are upset


1. e; 2. g; 3. a; 4. h; 5. c; 6. b; 7. d; 8. f; 9. j; 10. i; 11. sniggered; 12. doubled up; 13. cackled; 14. chuckled; 15. giggled; 16. hooted; 17. chortled; 18. tittered; 19. fell about; 20. guffawed; 21. a; 22. b; 23. a; 24. b; 25. a