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[murth] /mɜrθ/
gaiety or jollity, especially when accompanied by laughter:
the excitement and mirth of the holiday season.
amusement or laughter:
He was unable to conceal his mirth.
Origin of mirth
before 900; Middle English mirthe, Old English myrgth. See merry, -th1
Related forms
mirthless, adjective
1, 2. Mirth, glee, hilarity, merriment, jollity, joviality refer to the gaiety characterizing people who are enjoying the companionship of others. Mirth suggests spontaneous amusement or gaiety, manifested briefly in laughter: uncontrolled outbursts of mirth. Glee suggests an effervescence of high spirits or exultation, often manifested in playful or ecstatic gestures; it may apply also to a malicious rejoicing over mishaps to others: glee over the failure of a rival. Hilarity implies noisy and boisterous mirth, often exceeding the limits of reason or propriety: hilarity aroused by practical jokes. Merriment suggests fun, good spirits, and good nature rather than the kind of wit and sometimes artificial funmaking that cause hilarity: The house resounded with music and sounds of merriment. Jollity and joviality may refer either to a general atmosphere of mirthful festivity or to the corresponding traits of individuals. Jollity implies an atmosphere of easy and convivial gaiety, a more hearty merriment or a less boisterous hilarity: The holiday was a time of jollity. Joviality implies a more mellow merriment generated by people who are hearty, generous, benevolent, and high-spirited: the joviality of warm-hearted friends.
1. gloom. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mirthless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a harsh, mirthless laugh, which was equally an insult.

    The Golden Woman Ridgwell Cullum
  • “Well, I know it,” said Rathburn with a low, mirthless laugh.

    The Coyote James Roberts
  • A quiet and mirthless chuckle was heard in the pause of shocked silence.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • A mirthless voice, with an intention of mirth in it, said, 'Look out!

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • When the Prodigal expostulated with me I laughed—a bitter, mirthless laugh.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • "This is your wroom," said the Chinaman, revealing his yellow teeth in a mirthless smile.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • Ho-Pin, his face a smiling, mirthless mask, bent over the bed.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • Never had he found any supper party so noisy, so mirthless, and so endless.

    Athalie Robert W. Chambers
  • Then Rosemary laughed, too, but her laugh was also mirthless.

British Dictionary definitions for mirthless


laughter, gaiety, or merriment
Derived Forms
mirthful, adjective
mirthfully, adverb
mirthfulness, noun
mirthless, adjective
mirthlessly, adverb
mirthlessness, noun
Word Origin
Old English myrgth; compare merry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mirthless

late 14c., from mirth + -less. Related: Mirthlessly.



Old English myrgð "joy, pleasure," from Proto-Germanic *murgitha (cf. Middle Dutch merchte), noun of quality from *murgjo- (see merry; also see -th (2)). Mirthquake "entertainment that excites convulsive laughter" first attested 1928, in reference to Harold Lloyd movies.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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