have the last laugh, to prove ultimately successful after a seeming defeat or loss: She smiled slyly, because she knew she would yet have the last laugh on them.
    laugh it up, to laugh or joke in a hearty way: He was laughing it up with his friends.
    laugh out of court, to dismiss or depreciate by means of ridicule; totally scorn: His violent protests were laughed out of court by the others.
    laugh out of the other side of one's mouth, to undergo a chastening reversal, as of glee or satisfaction that is premature; be ultimately chagrined, punished, etc.; cry: She's proud of her promotion, but she'll laugh out of the other side of her mouth when the work piles up.Also laugh on the wrong side of one's mouth/face.
    laugh up one's sleeve. sleeve(def 7).

Origin of laugh

before 900; Middle English laughen, Old English hlæh(h)an (Anglian); cognate with Dutch, German lachen, Old Norse hlǣja, Gothic hlahjan
Related formsout·laugh, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for laugh

1. chortle, cackle, cachinnate, guffaw, roar; giggle, snicker, snigger, titter. 6. Laugh, chuckle, grin, smile refer to methods of expressing mirth, appreciation of humor, etc. A laugh may be a sudden, voiceless exhalation, but is usually an audible sound, either soft or loud: a hearty laugh. Chuckle suggests a barely audible series of sounds expressing private amusement or satisfaction: a delighted chuckle. A smile is a (usually pleasant) lighting up of the face and an upward curving of the corners of the lips (which may or may not be open); it may express amusement or mere recognition, friendliness, etc.: a courteous smile. A grin, in which the teeth are usually visible, is like an exaggerated smile, less controlled in expressing the feelings: a friendly grin. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for laugh out of the other side of one's mouth



(intr) to express or manifest emotion, esp mirth or amusement, typically by expelling air from the lungs in short bursts to produce an inarticulate voiced noise, with the mouth open
(intr) (esp of certain mammals or birds) to make a noise resembling a laugh
(tr) to utter or express with laughterhe laughed his derision at the play
(tr) to bring or force (someone, esp oneself) into a certain condition by laughterhe laughed himself sick
(intr foll by at) to make fun (of); jeer (at)
(intr foll by over) to read or discuss something with laughter
don't make me laugh informal I don't believe you for a moment
laugh all the way to the bank informal to be unashamedly pleased at making a lot of money
laugh in a person's face to show open contempt or defiance towards a person
laugh like a drain informal to laugh loudly and coarsely
laugh up one's sleeve to laugh or have grounds for amusement, self-satisfaction, etc, secretly
laugh on the other side of one's face to show sudden disappointment or shame after appearing cheerful or confident
be laughing informal to be in a favourable situation


the act or an instance of laughing
a manner of laughter
informal a person or thing that causes laughterthat holiday was a laugh
the last laugh the final success in an argument, situation, etc, after previous defeat
Derived Formslaugher, nounlaughing, noun, adjectivelaughingly, adverb

Word Origin for laugh

Old English læhan, hliehhen; related to Gothic hlahjan, Dutch lachen
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

Word Origin and History for laugh out of the other side of one's mouth



1680s, from laugh (v.). Meaning "a cause of laughter" is from 1895; ironic use (e.g. that's a laugh) attested from 1930. Laugh track "canned laughter on a TV program" is from 1961.



late 14c., from Old English (Anglian) hlæhhan, earlier hlihhan, from Proto-Germanic *klakhjanan (cf. Old Norse hlæja, Danish le, Old Frisian hlakkia, Old Saxon hlahhian, Middle Dutch and Dutch lachen, Old High German hlahhan, German lachen, Gothic hlahjan), from PIE *kleg-, of imitative origin (cf. Latin cachinnare "to laugh aloud," Sanskrit kakhati "laughs," Old Church Slavonic chochotati "laugh," Lithuanian klageti "to cackle," Greek kakhazein). Originally with a "hard" -gh- sound, as in Scottish loch; the spelling remained after the pronunciation shifted to "-f."

If I coveted nowe to avenge the injuries that you have done me, I myght laughe in my slyve. [John Daus, "Sleidanes Commentaries," 1560]

Related: Laughed; laughing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with laugh out of the other side of one's mouth

laugh out of the other side of one's mouth

Also, laugh on the wrong side of one's mouth or face. Change from happiness to sadness, disappointment, or vexation. For example, He'll be laughing out of the other side of his mouth when he learns that he'll have to pay for the business trip he sought. [Late 1700s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with laugh

  • laugh all the way to the bank
  • laugh and the world laughs with you
  • laugh at
  • laughing matter
  • laugh off
  • laugh one's head off
  • laugh out of court
  • laugh out of the other side of one's mouth
  • laugh up one's sleeve

also see:

  • canned laughter
  • die laughing
  • it's to laugh
  • last laugh
  • no joke (laughing matter)
  • shake with laughter
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.