Ways To Laugh Online That Are More Amusing Than LOL

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LOL and beyond

We can chuckle and chortle. We can snicker and snort. We can cacklecachinnate, and crack up. We can even guffaw. There are many words to express laughter—and these are just in English.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that different communities and languages have developed all sorts of ways to show when we're in stitches on social and in text messages, from internet acronyms like LOL to the number 555.

LOL (or lol) is one of the most classic ways to express laughter online. The acronym, standing for laughing out loud, dates back to online message boards in the 1980s. And given its age, LOL has inspired some unique offshoots.

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lulz and lel

One is lulz, based on a colloquial pronunciation and informal spelling of the plural form of LOL. Lulz usually refers to laughter that comes at someone else's expense.

Then there's lel, another playful or ironic version of LOL associated with trollish behavior online. It emerged on the popular image-board site 4chan in the mid-2000s, with its E apparently a random substitute for the O in LOL.

In some internet contexts, though, lel developed a darker side, with some users pairing lel with a Trollface image, a meme based on a rage comics character used by some troublemakers online. (Some might even consider lel dank meme, a meta-meme which parodies conventional internet humor.)

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😂 and 🤣

In the mid-2010s, emoji took over, including two, very popular emoji depicting laughter: Face with Tears of Joy 😂 and Rolling on the Floor Laughing 🤣.

Face with Tears of Joy 😂 is consistently one of the most used emoji across the globe often expressing varying degrees of amusement and happiness. People may use the Rolling on the Floor Laughing 🤣 to communicate something even more hilarious. Both, however, are often used together to express laughter online and in text messages.

Speaking of rolling on the floor laughing 

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ROFL and roflcopter

Rolling on the Floor Laughing emoji 🤣 is in part inspired by ROFLan acronym meaning rolling on the floor laughing, of course.

Sometimes pronounced to rhyme with awful, ROFL is attested as early as 1989.

And then (by the 1990s) to make the ultimate combo, ROFL was combined with LOL in ROTFLOL. Like so many ways of expressing laughter, stringing these expressions together shows just how much someone is cracking up.

Another play on ROFL is the roflcopter, a blend of helicopter and ROFL. The term was allegedly coined in 2003 by moderators on a World of Warcraft III forum in reference to a vehicle in that online game, the gyrocopter. Gamers may use roflcopter as a response to something they find extremely funny in allusion to the meme and as an intensification of ROFL (e.g., Dude, roflcopter, that was hilarious!)

Other variants of ROFL include ROTF (just rolling on the floor) and ROTFL, which includes the initial of the. The possibilities are endless ...

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XD or xD

We're going early internet for this one. Before emoji, many used emoticons (remember those?) like XD or xD to convey laughter.

XD/xD are supposed to resemble someone's eyes scrunched closed and mouth opened wide in laughter. Their exact origin is unknown, but it likely emerges in the 1990s and early 2000s. An Urban Dictionary entry for it dates to 2003, referred to as "better than lol." That year, some people also began to use a phonetic rendering of XD, ecks dee, as a play on the emoticon.

As emoji have become more popular and widespread, XD has dropped in use, though it's still found online, sometimes for convenience or nostalgia.

kek

Not all expressions of laughter online are funny. Kek is an online term with similar meanings to LOL or haha, used originally by gamers, but has since taken a controversial turn.

The expression kek, used in the context of gaming, originated from Blizzard’s 1998 real-time strategy game Starcraft. The game did not support the Korean writing system, so the Korean equivalent to the English hahaha, or ㅋㅋㅋ, became written as “kekeke,” and soon became an in-joke to gamers who didn’t speak Korean.

As it turns out, Kek is also the name of an ancient Egyptian deity often represented as a humanoid figure with the head of a frog. In 2015, an anonymous user on 4chan posted information and pictures of Kek, with users comparing the god to Pepe the Frog, an innocent cartoon character that has, since the 2016 US presidential election, been turned into a hate symbol by the alt-right supporters of Donald Trump. By 2016, Pepe, Trump, and Kek had become linked.

Due to the alt-right’s hijacking of the term, kek has become linked to the alt-right movement’s ties to white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and other hateful ideologies. This development has been much to the dismay of gamers who enjoyed using kek as an expression of laughter.

Our next Asian-language-inspired form of laughter, however, remains squeaky-clean.

wwww

Wwww (pronounced "wah-rah-wah-rah-wah-rah-wah-rah") is the Japanese equivalent of the English hahahaha, used to express laughter online and in text messages.

The use of wwww to represent laughing comes from the Japanese wara (笑), “to laugh.” With the rise of text-messaging and the internet in the 1990s–2000s, Japanese users adapted the kanji 笑 to denote laughter (similar to LOL). People eventually found it easier, though, to use the letter w, from the romaji of 笑, wara.

Like hahahaha or lolololol, Japanese users string together multiple Ws to intensify the intended emotion. Someone noticed that all those Ws looked like blades of grass, prompting people to refer to wwww as kusa (草), Japanese for “grass.” Also like a curt haha or lol, a shortened w(ww) can have an ironic tone or even mocking subtext (e.g., Haha, real funny. Not.)

Some speakers of Asian languages forgo the Latin alphabet altogether to express laughter, such as with …

233 and 555

Some Chinese speakers use the number 233 as shorthand for laughter. This comes from the popular Chinese online forum Mop.com, which has custom, emoji-like characters. On Mop, the 233rd character is a GIF of a small, furry creature pounding the ground in laughter. As a result, 233 spread as shorthand for laughter.

Like other forms of online laughter, the longer the string of numbers, the more enthusiastic the laughing. So, if 233 means "haha," then 2333333333 is more like "hahahahahaha."

Thai speakers also use numbers to express laughter, but this use is more onomatopoeic than the Chinese example above. The word for the number 5 (๕) in Thai is ha (ห้า). So, Thai users will often write 555 in Arabic numerals for a hahaha or LOL.

Speaking of onomatopoeic ways to express laughter online ...

jaja and jeje

In Spanish, J is usually pronounced with a strong sound. For example, the Spanish word mija is pronounced [mee-hah], not [mee-jah].

That's why many Spanish speakers often will write haha as jaja. Just like when English-speakers write long strings like hahahahaha to express lots of laughter, Spanish speakers will string together JAs depending on how funny something is.

Spanish speakers will also use jejeje to express (often more mischievous or trollish) laughter, like the English hehehe.

MDR and PTDR

The French have acronyms and abbreviations all their own for texting and social media. There's A+, which stands for à plus tard ("see you later"), JTM (je t'aime, "I love you"), and dak (d'accord, "OK"), to name just a few.

When it comes to laughing, they type MDR, which stands for mort de rire, or "dying of laughter." Instead of ROFL, they use the acronym PTDR, short for pété de rire, an expression that translates literally to "broken with laughter."

Talk about getting the last laugh ...

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