Survival of the Funniest: Evolution's Guide to Chuckles and Chortles

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Laughter is not only a sign of good health; it can be an invaluable survival tool. From using the "it could have been worse" reframing technique to simply looking for humor in any situation, there are various strategies available for finding humor in any given situation.

Thankfully, the comedy world is filled with people with the ability to make you chuckle.


A chuckle is a gentle form of laughter often employed as an amusing or amusement indicator. It can also be called suppressed laughter. Chuckles can be found in humorous situations or to convey amusement.

The word chuckle derives from the Old English term klug, meaning to cluck or "to clack," thought to originate with contented chicken clucking noises. Some experts speculate that its use has inspired expressions such as guffaw and chortle as well.

Though it may seem trivial, choosing between the words chuckle or chortle can have a major impact on both your writing and your audience. Each has different tones and intensities; therefore it is crucial that writers understand which is more suitable when used for formal or professional settings than another - for instance chuckle would probably be considered more adult or mature in such environments compared with its counterpart chortle, which might come across as immature or inappropriate in these environments.

Selecting the appropriate word can also help prevent mistakes that could render your writing insensitive or unprofessional. For instance, using "chuckle" inappropriately could leave an unfavorable impression that you lack respect for a situation; using chortle in such settings might seem overly dramatic or inappropriate; finally personal preferences and regional differences can play an integral part in which word you use; for instance some may prefer "chuckle," while others feel "chortle" is more suitable.


Strong vocabulary and word usage skills are important elements of success in everyday speech and writing. Sometimes there can be subtle distinctions among different forms of words we use daily; for instance, some individuals may prefer "chortle" over "chuckle," depending on context and personal preferences; however, this may lead to reader confusion.

Chortling is a less boisterous way of showing our joy or laughter, often used to convey that emotion more subduedly than gigging does. Louder than its counterpart, however, and sounding similar to snorting, it conveys feelings of satisfaction or excitement.

The comedian's joke made everyone in the room laugh with delight, including himself! Even his own jokes caused laughter from all.

Lewis Carroll popularized chortle as a portmanteau word in 1871; it's a combination of "chuckle" and "snort," with roots in "cluck," the verb for making a noise similar to chickens making sounds.

Typically, chortles are more suitable in formal settings like business meetings and job interviews than chuckles due to being more refined and polite, while also fitting more naturally with lighter yet casual environments like comedy shows or social gatherings. By contrast, chuckles tend to be more common in informal settings and may not be appropriate at funeral or memorial services; understanding the subtle nuances between chuckles and chortle laughs will allow you to craft messages with more precision and accuracy.


Researchers have long recognized the value of laughter as a critical survival skill. A sense of humor can bolster one's immune system, improve relationships and even enhance work performance. Now there's an engaging new book celebrating laughter through bite-sized comedy vignettes and advice - and this new publication does just that!

Catherine Lawrence is an attorney-turned-humorist whose passion is teaching people how to tap into their inner humor resource for business and personal success.

She is the author of six different books that provide bite-sized laughter vignettes from life, has appeared at various events that celebrate humor's value, and believes humour should not just be about being funny but seeing funny. University of Colorado scientist Daniel Howrigan's research supports his hypothesis that humor emerged as an indicator of mental fitness and reproductive success; his experiment revealed that individuals scoring higher on intelligence tests produced more humorous pictures and stories than less intelligent subjects.


It may be hard to distinguish the differences between chuckle and chortle, but writers need to know which words they use when writing about laughter. Both words describe forms of laughter; however, their intensity and tone differ greatly; for instance, chuckling tends toward subdued humor while chortling is often expressed through more expressive movements of laughter.

Though both chuckle and chortle can be considered forms of laughter, their origins and definitions vary significantly. Chuckle may come from an imitational source; its meaning has also been related to words like titter and snicker which indicate restrained laughter.

A chuckle can be defined as a muffled laugh that occurs under amusement or mild humor, according to OED. Chuckling can also be likened to guffawing which is more pronounced and energetic form of laughter originating in the sound of snorting air and frequently followed by hiccuping.

She tried not to laugh out loud at the baby's funny facial expression, while her audience laughed heartily at the comedian's humorous joke and her clever wordplay-based joke had everyone in stitches.

A chortle is an audible and more pronounced form of laughter associated with amusement or joy. According to OED, chortle laughter resembles that found in guffaws but often includes hiccups; its origins lie in giggling as well as related terms like titter, snicker and cackle; Lewis Carroll first introduced this term into literature with "Alice in Wonderland," where it describes the sound emitted after killing off monsters: "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"


Snickers has been delighting audiences worldwide since 1930 and continues to remain one of the best-selling candy bars today. But does Mars name this iconic candy bar after hearing someone giggle or just pick something fun and playful that sounded good?

There are various words that resemble Snickers; some are restrained and less boisterous than a full-on laugh; while others like giggle, titter and chortle may more closely represent childish sounds often heard in small children. A chuckle conveys amusement or pleasure without making noise like other words do.

The rule for both laughing and chortling may seem straightforward; however, their application depends on factors like setting, audience size and conversation or situation tone. For example, when telling an offensive joke with friends, "chortle" might be more appropriate than simple "chuckle".

Snicker is an excellent word to use in such an informal situation because it means light-hearted, quick laughter. Furthermore, its short form allows it to fit easily with casual and unstructured environments.

Snicker can also refer to the sound of laughing through your nose, usually quietly or subtly, usually accompanied by an exhale through your nostril. Sniggle and sniffle are other types of nose laughs which might come into play when someone laughs through their nose.


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