Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To laugh quietly or to oneself.
  • intransitive verb To cluck or chuck, as a hen.
  • noun A quiet laugh of mild amusement or satisfaction.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make a clucking sound, as a hen.
  • To laugh in a suppressed, covert, or sly manner; express inward satisfaction, derision, or exultation by subdued laughter.
  • To call by chucking or clucking, as a hen her chicks.
  • as a chuckle.
  • noun The call of a hen to her young; a cluck.
  • noun A sly suppressed laugh, expressive of satisfaction, exultation, or the like; hence, any similar sound.
  • To rock upon its center while rotating, as the runner of a grinding-mill.
  • To chuck under the chin; fondle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A short, suppressed laugh; the expression of satisfaction, exultation, or derision.
  • intransitive verb To laugh in a suppressed or broken manner, as expressing inward satisfaction, exultation, or derision.
  • transitive verb obsolete To call, as a hen her chickens; to cluck.
  • transitive verb obsolete To fondle; to cocker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A quiet laugh.
  • verb To laugh quietly or inwardly.
  • verb archaic Sounds made by chicken.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb laugh quietly or with restraint
  • noun a soft partly suppressed laugh

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[ Probably frequentative of chuck.]

Examples

Comments

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  • Blech. The use of this word evokes a laugh that is both smug and vaguely sinister. Auditorily, it's a very wet, guttural word, akin to coughing up phlegm.

    May 20, 2007

  • I agree. Funny though, usually when I see this word it's in reference to a cute little restrained girly-type laugh, and yet for me it conjures images of horror-movie clowns freakishly popping out of darkened corners. Perhaps because of the similarity in names, I also think of Chucky from Child's Play.

    May 21, 2007

  • That's odd that you see it in reference to feminine laughter since I almost exclusively see it used (and perceive it) in reference to men. Essentially, it's the masculine version of a giggle. It actually bothers me a lot because, in writing, I'm often compelled to use "chuckle" even though I dislike the word because I can't really think of another one for mildly amused manlaughter.

    May 23, 2007

  • It's not something I've really given much thought to. I suppose it's somewhat gender-neutral, meaning anyone can do it... but when I say girly I guess I'm thinking of a quiet, shy type of laugh, similar to a giggle, a characteristic of girlishness. Maybe that's my patriarchal bias. ;-)

    Though I would submit that snicker is a good word for mildly amused manlaughter.

    May 23, 2007

  • That's it--someone has to add manlaughter to his/her Wordie list.

    May 24, 2007

  • When I think "chuckle" I think man version of "giggle". Either way it's an awesome word.

    April 21, 2009

  • I would consider snicker a much more malicious kind of laughter than chuckle though neither is particularly desirable. Why is it that laughter-related words are nearly universally unpleasant? guffaw, cackle, snigger, titter, chortle

    September 17, 2009

  • The part of the pig between the tail and anus, according to Kenneth.

    November 25, 2009

  • See susurrations

    March 25, 2012