Lesson about 「笑う」( = warau) = to laugh


:maggie-small: 「ねえ、新しいおもちゃ買って!」

=Nee, atarashii omocha katte!

“Hey, buy me a new toy!”


= Watashi no egao mitara iyatte ienai desho!

“Once you see my smiling face, you can’t say no, can you”


= hehe..

Today’s lesson is about 「笑う」” ( = warau) . It means “to laugh”.

It is my favorite thing to do, and I do believe it is very important thing in life.

We have a saying, 笑う門には福来る。 ( = Warau kado ni wa fuku kitaru.) Laughter will bring in luck.

←Luck will come to the family who always laughs.

Let’s look at the kanji first.

➡︎ 笑  (わらう/え/しょうwarau/  e/ shou

笑う ( = warau) to laugh

Ex. ニコニコ笑う

= nikoniko warau.


= nikoniko suru

to beam, to smile

Ex. 彼女はいつも私の下手なジョークにも笑う。

= Kanojo wa itsumo watashi no hetana jouku ni mo warau.

She always laughs even at my bad jokes.

笑わせる ( = warawaseru) to make someone laugh


= Kare wa mawari no hito wo itsumo warawaseru.

He always makes people around him laugh.

笑える  ( = waraeru) funny

Ex. 彼のギャグは本当に笑える。

 = Kare no gyagu wa hontou ni waraeru.

His gags really make me laugh. His gags are very funny.

(In Japanese ギャグ ( = gyagu) gags can be verbal or physical.)

笑わせられる ( = warawase rareru) to be made to laugh

Ex. あの子にはいつも笑わせられるね。

= Anoko niwa itsumo warawaserareru ne.

I always get a good laugh out that kid. -> That kid always makes me laugh.

Note : There was a popular day time variety shows called 笑っていいとも。( = Waratteru iitomo.) ,You can laugh or It is OK to laugh, hosted by タモリ ( = Tamori). Thus you see this kanji, 笑 , often in a title of variety shows.  (Ex. 笑点(=shouten), etc.)


笑っちゃう ( = waracchau) colloquial, funny,

When something makes you laugh

Ex. もう本当に笑っちゃう!

= Mou hontou ni waracchau

It is so funny! (That makes me laugh so hard!)

🗒 Note : Sometimes 笑う( = warau) is used negatively.

Ex. あれで先生なんて本当に笑っちゃう。

= Are de sensei nante hontou ni waracchau.

“The fact that he is a teacher is a big joke to me.

(= I do not respect him/her as a teacher.)

Ex. そんなことで私が許すと思うんなんて笑わせないで!

= Sonna koto de watashi ga yurusu to omou nante warawasenaide!

 = “You thought I would forgive you by doing that? Don’t make me laugh! “

高笑いをする  ( = takawarai wo suru) laugh with great guffaws, to laugh boisterously

馬鹿笑いする  ( = bakawarai suru)to laugh crazy

笑いする  ( = oowarai suru) to laugh loudly

る ( = bakushou suru) burst into laughter (=ドッ (=dotto warau)

腹を抱えて笑う ( = hara wo kakaete wrau) belly laugh

初笑い ( = hatsuwarai) the literal meaning is “the first laugh in a year”. Many comedy shows use this title during the New Year’s Holidays.

笑顔 ( = egao) (one’s) smiling face

苦笑いをする  ( = nigawarai suru)  = 苦笑する  (  =kushou suru) to smile bitterly (grimly)

照れ笑いをする ( = terewarai wo suru) to laugh in embarrassment

嘲笑う ( = azawarau)     嘲笑する  ( = choushou suru) せせら笑う ( = sesera warau) 冷笑する ( = reishou suru)  鼻先で笑う ( = hanasaki de warau.)

:rrrr: to ridicle, to scoff

(Note: We also use the kanji 嗤う( = warau) when you riducule someone or something.)

!onpu! Culture note :

When Japanese people get embarrased or puzzled, they smile to cover up their embarassment. This sometimes causes misunderstanding between Japanese people and foreign people if they don’t know the difference of culture.

微笑  ( = bishou) smile   (noun)

微笑み  ( = hohoemi) smile   (noun)

Ex.レオナルド• ダヴィンチの「モナリザの微笑み 」

= Leonardo Da Vinci no “Monariza nohohoemi”

 = Mona Lisa’s Smile (La Gioconda) by Leonardo Da Vinci

微笑む ( = hohoemu) to smile

Ex. 彼女は目が合うと僕に微笑んだ。

= Kanojo wa me ga au to boku ni hohoen da.

She smiled at me when she caught my eyes.

笑みを浮かべる ( = emi wo ukaberu) to smile

⭐️ Special expressions :

笑い物  ( = warai mono) a target to be laughed at

笑い物になる ( = warai mono ni naru.) make a fool (out) of oneself, become a laughing stock

笑いにする ( = warai mono ni suru.) to make fun of someone

笑い事  ( = warai goto) a target to be laughed at


= Kore wa warai goto dewa nai.

It’s not a laughing matter


=Waratte iru baai deewa nai.

You’re in no position to be laughing.


⭐️Culture note : How do Japanese people laugh?

Many women cover their mouth when they laugh. You might have seen women covering their mouths

with their hands in dramas, movies, or comic book. Some cover their mouths with their hands intentionally

to appear cute. But most of the time it’s second nature. It is considered rude to laugh with your mouth

open in public. We still hear older ladies telling young girls :


=Onna no ko ga sonna ookina kuchi wo akete warau mono dewa arimasenyo. Mittomonai!

 = “A young woman shouldn’t laugh with her mouth wide open like that. It looks awful!”

⭐️Laughing sound in Japanese :

〜(と)笑う  ( = ~to warau)  to laugh making ~ sound.

• あはは ( = ahaha) Haha!

ハハ ( = haha) or ハハハ  ( = hahaha) Haha!

ワッハッハ ( = wahhahha)  Stronger than ハハBuHaha!

ケラケラ  ( = kearakera) Kids or younger people, laugh innocently

Ex. ケラケラ笑う。 ( = Kerakera warau.)

キャッキャ  ( = kyakka) cackle, usually girls or children


 = Kodomo tachi wa nani wo mite mo kyakkya to warau.

Children laugh at whatever they see.

クスクス  ( = kusukusu) giggling sound

Ex. クスクス笑う  ( = kusukusu warau) to giggle

うふふ… ( = ufufu..) for girls

えへへ..(  = ehehe)

Ex. えへへと笑ってごまかす。

= Ehehe to waratte gomakasu.  

To fake one’s mistake by laughing.

へへ..( = hehe)

Note : えへへ..( = ehehe) へへ..( = hehe) both sound mischievous.

(お)ほほ.. ( = (o)hoho) for women (Usually we use it for a snobbish woman’s laugh in cartoons.)

ギャーギャー ( =gyaa gyaa) very noisy laugh

Ex.ギャーギャー 笑う ( = gyaa gyaa warau) = けたたましく笑う ( = Ketatamashiku warau) to laugh


ニヤリと笑う ( = niyari to warau.) put on a grin (No sound)


Note : In Japan, they use “w” for laughing on the internet. So “www” means “LOL


The most common word to represent comedy in Japan now is お笑い(=owarai) comedy

Before I write aboutお笑い ( = owarai) comedy, let me give you some of the basic related words,

喜劇 ( = kigeki) a comedy (We usually use it for theater or for a movie.)

コメディー ( = komedii) a comedy

コメディアン  ( = komedian) a comedian

コント  (  = komedian) a comedy skit

OK, now I can go into お笑い ( = owarai)  vocabulary.

Japanese お笑い  ( = owarai) stand-up comedy, is still very popular.

Many young comedias are treated just like pop idols in Japan.


お笑いタレント  ( = owarai tarento) comedian, comic entertainer

お笑い芸人  ( = owarai geinin) comedian

芸人  ( = geinin) an entertainer, a comedian who supposedly has other talents

芸  ( = gei) means skill or talent as an entertainer

芸がある  ( = gei ga aru) to have talent, skill

芸がない  ( = gei ga nai) to have no talent or skill

お笑いコンビ  ( = owarai konbi) comic duo

お笑い番組  ( = owarai bangumi) comedy TV shows From little children to older generation

「お笑い( = owarai) is very popular. It is very hard to find a TV program without seeing them.

So if you want to communicate with young Japanese people, I will suggest to learn a bit about these 「お笑い( = owarai) terms.

First of all, the traditional names for comedy and comedians are,

漫才 ( = manzai) stand-up comedy

漫才師 ( = manzaishi) a stand-up comedian

(note: 落語  ( = rakugo) comic monologue 落語家 ( = rakugoka) traditional comic story tellers who do rakugo

are more traditional and artistic. They are well trained and have to memorize all the complicated

monologues. They play all different roles by changing the tone of their voice. They wear Kimono to

present the story in 寄席( yose), the Rakugo stage.)

Manzai is based on two roles : ボケとツッコミ ぼけと突っ込み) ( = Boke to tsukkomi)

The silly and funny one→( ボケ= boke) and straight man   ( ツッコミ = tsukkomi) ボケ  ( =  boke) means airhead, idiot, and

ツッコミ ( = tsukkomi) means to butt-in. The “boke” person says something stupid and “tsukkomi” person catches their obvious mistake and points

it out in a funny way and makes the audience laugh.

Note : In my previous, 「ドン引き」  ( = Donbiki) lesson, I mentioned that the word was originally a part of Japanese comedian lingo. There are many more lingos among professional comedians which have became a common word in our daily life.

Ex. 誰か突っ込んでよ!

= Dareka tsukkon deyo! 

(Say this when you say something funny and you want to jump in and be your straight man.)

 = “Hey, anybody should point out what I have just said as a joke.”

The manzai pros are very quick witted. ( 玄人 ( = kurouto) pro. 素人 ( = shirouto) amateur)

Many of the comedians are from 関西  ( = Kansai) west area. Personally I love 関西弁  ( = kansai ben)

Kansai dialect or 大阪弁 ( = Ousaka ben), Osaka dialect because they sound very friendly and funny.

Also Osaka has a big comedian company called  吉本興行 ( = Yoshimoto kougyou). The main Japanese

comedians belong to this company. (Ex. Many of the top comedians such as 明石屋さんま ( = Akashiya Sanma) , ダウンタウン(Dauntaun) belong to this company.)

There are schools for comedians as well. (お笑い養成学校  ( = Owarai yousei gakkou )

北野武  ( =Takeshi Kitano) the well-known movie director was originally from  漫才( = manzai.)

(The comedy duo name was ツービート ( = Tuu Beato.) In Japan he is better known as ビートタケシ ( = Beato Takeshi).

Every year, many new comedians debut and others disappear. Some become super popular and their gags became the trendy word or phrase for that year.

You will hear their gags almost every day on TV or even in our daily conversation. Kids especially love to mimic them.

But even if they become popular, 流行語  ( = ryuukougo) fad or trendy words, many of them just

disappear eventually and become 死語  ( = shigo) literally “dead words” that nobody uses anymore.

If someone becomes very popular because of one gag, we call him 一発屋 = Ippatsuya) a one trick pony.


⭐️ Other owarai related words which have become common in conversational Japanese.


ギャグ ( = gagu) gag

Ex. 「今日はギャグが冴えてるね。

=Kyouwa gyagu ga saeterune.

“Your gags are rolling today!”

ネタ ( = neta) Fun or interesting topics to talk about.

It came from a word   ( = tane) : 話の種 ( = hanashi no tane.) topic

(Note: Sometimes we invert the order of letters to create a lingo or slang. →倒置語 ( = touchigo) inverted word

Ex. ワイハハワイ Hawaii)

ネタにする ( = neta ni suru) :


=Ano hito, nandemo neta ni suru ne.

“He makes anything interesting!”

ネタがある/ない ( = neta ga aru/nai):to have a story / to not to have a story


=Nanka omoshiroi neta nai?

“Do you have any funny (interesting) story?”

Ex. 今日はネタが何にもない。

= Kyou wa neta ga nannimo nai.

= I have nothing interesting to talk about. / “I don’t have any good topics today.”

•ネタ切れ  ( = neta gire) run out of topics

ネタばれ(or ネタバレ): a story that every can predict what is going to happen, a spoiler.

The punch line is :

落ち or オチ ( = ochi)

Ex. 話の落ちがない

 = Hanashi no ochi ga nai.

There is no punch line for that story.

Ex. 落ちをつける

= Ochi wo tsukeru

= to have a punch line.

When people laugh a lot with some joke or gags, we say

「今日は受けた (orウケた)!

= Kyou wa uketa

I made people laugh today.

If nobody laughs at your joke,

受けない or ウケない ( = ukenai)

Ex. 「誰にも受けてないよ!

=Dareni mo ukete naiyo!

Nobody is laughing at (your joke.)

So when someone says something very funny you say:

「笑える!( = waraeru) (=It makes me laugh -> It is funny)

Ex. この本、すごく笑えるよ!

 =Kono hon sugoku waraeru yo!

This book will make you laugh a lot! → This book is very funny!


受ける!( = ukeru) (= I get a kick out of it! –> It is funny!

Ex. 彼の話ってほんと、受ける!

= Kare no hanashitte honto, ukeru!

His story really makes me laugh!→ His story is very funny!

ウケ狙い ( = ukenerai) to do something expecting to get a good laugh

狙う  ( = nerau) to aim or to expect

Ex. ウケを狙ってあんなことをやったのにスベった。

= Uke wo neratta anna koto wo yatta noni subetta.

He thought it would be a big hit and did such a thing but nobody laughed.

すべる or スベる ( = suberu) to fail to make people laugh


= Aitsu kono aida, suggoku subette tayo.

Nobody laughed at his jokes the other day.

(笑いの)つぼor ツボ (=(warai no) tsubo )

Literal one’s “laughing spot”.

Ex. 「あのジョーク、ツボにはまる〜!

= Ano jouku tsubo ni hamaruu

That joke really makes me laugh.

:i: It might be confusing for you to see some of the words are written in Katakana instead of Hiragana or Kanji. We tend to write colloquial words or experessions mixing up with Katakana.


frenchbulldog マギー先生より   = Maggie sensei yori  = From Maggie-sensei

笑顔は私の武器です。= Egao wa watashi no buki desu. = My smile is my weapon!


= Mina mo kyou wa takusan waratte ii ichinichi wo sugoshite ne!

Laugh a lot and have a good day today,everyone!


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  1. Maggie Sensei!!
    What about a small laugh, like:
    “It gave me a tickle”
    “It made me smile/chuckle”

      1. So instead of くすくすと笑う, くすっと笑えた or くすっときた is like a single giggle or chuckle?

          1. Would it be the same for ぴくぴく –> ぴくっと~ like a single wince/twitch when you hear/see something that disturbs you. しくしくとなく–> しくっと or ひくひく –> ひくっと~ when you’re trying to stop from crying or the first ひく before you really ひくひく?

          2. You usually repeat the word to describe the state condition or constant movement. And you use single word to describe the one time movement/action.

            魚がぴくぴく動いている (The fish is twitching-constant movement) →ぴくっと動いた。(Just one time)

            But it doesn’t work with any words. You don’t say しくっとなく→しくしく泣く I guess it is because しくしく means “weeping” is not one time action.

  2. This is very interesting. How would you write “Laughing Creek.” The idea being the creek is personified. I would like to bring to mind a mountain stream. Would “笑う磎” be correct?

    1. laughing ~ = ~ が笑っている/笑う〜
      pattern works.
      But it is hard to imagine the situation.

  3. I found the phrase 笑いあうin a book. In the context, I believe the townspeople are smiling to each other as they say “Oh, little Kiki’s caught her foot again.”

    Can you explain this 「笑いあう」 ?

  4. Hi, I want to get a tattoo of the Japanese for laugh because it’s the best thing to do and I was born in Japan and lived there for 7 years.

    What is the word/phrase/kanji I should get?

    1. @kyashi

      Yes, (笑える or 笑っちゃう) you can also say “ウケる!= ukeru!” in colloquial Japanese.

    1. @Cygnus
      You mean the rest of the old gag lines?
      A lot of them are meaningless. You just have to see the old comedy shows.
      「おめえに食わせるタンメ ンはない! 」Pretending a Chinese chef in Jacky Chan movie. “There is no Tanmen (Chinese noodle) for you!” ” I won’t serve any Chinese noodle for a person like you.”
      「 欧米か! 」 means “You are too westernized! ”
      「フォ〜! 」 No meaning (just a sound of calling out)
      「グウ〜〜!」 No particular meaning but it comes from “Good! ”
      「あると思います!」 “I think it’s possible.”
      「トウ〜ス! 」No meaning (It is from American Football calling out sound)

      1. Thanks A LOT. I think 「ダメだこりゃ」 is also famous but a little older, right?

        My two favourite shows are personally 学べるニュース and ザ・ベスト・ハウス, I always learn something new :-).

        1. @Cygnus
          「ダメだこりゃ」 (a gag line of いかりや長介 from ドリフターズ)is old but people still use it.
          ザ・ベスト・ハウス is very popular in Japan.

  5. Laughing makes you live longer, as we’d say :)
    I think that was scientifically proven actually….
    先生、質問があるよん!From your girl speech lesson I remember you saying that うふふ is kinda cocquetishね?If so, then would a woman use うふふ in front of a guy unless if she does like him? たぶん、変な質問だ、けどcuriousだもん。:)

    1. @Aki
      Interesting question! うふふ or うふっ is usually used when girls want them to look/sound cuter, attractive or provocative on purpose. So we can assume the girl has some kind of feeling towards him. (But we do write it to a girl,too.)

  6. I always watch & love Japanese comedy, and don’t really get everything they say demo it’s still funny :)
    This has been really helpful, i always get confused on how to use a word in a sentence so i appreciate all the examples…thanx a lot for the hard work!

    1. nadewさん

      “Doumo Arigatou” for your comment!
      I will keep adding more words or phrases. There are tons of fun expressions from お笑い!
      Japanese comedy could be difficult because of they talk very fast and many of them use Kansaiben.
      If you have any questions, please ask me!

  7. Thank you!! I really learnt a lot from this lesson. Also, I’d been hearing ウケる a lot recently and didn’t really understand how to use it, but now I do! :)

    1. yumyumsesame-san

      お久しぶりです!お元気でしたか?Since your Japanese’s comment is just perfect, I will write to you in Japanese.
      お笑い見ていてわからないことあったらいつでも聞いて下さいね。(Also if you don’t understand this comment, please let me know!)

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