I came across this expression and found on google that it is quite common, like in the example:

(subject) let out a cackle of laugh/laughter

I didn't find this usage in the dictionaries as idiomatic. Isn't it implicit that a cackle is a kind of laugh? The word "cackle" has only one meaning; there can't be a cackle of anything else, isn't there? To me, it sounds like someone saying "(subject) drank an orange juice of fruit". Is there a reason for this expression? Did I miss something?

1 Answer 1


The word cackle has more than one meaning.

To quote Merriam-Webster:

1: to make the sharp broken noise or cry characteristic of a hen especially after laying

2: to laugh especially in a harsh or sharp manner

3: chatter

So the expression cackle of laughter tends to be used of people, more often females, who laugh in a manner reminiscent of the noise made by hens - especially those with sharp, piercing laughs.

It's a description traditionally applied to the laughter of witches, crones, hags and other such unfortunates, and is not exactly complimentary.

  • Certain male villains also cackle with demonic glee.
    – TimR
    May 25, 2018 at 11:54
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Undoubtedly so - although, as so often in life, it's the females whom seem to bear the brunt of it. May 25, 2018 at 14:13

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