What do you call the small burst of laugh that people let out when they want to refrain from laughing, but can't? You know the "pfft" sound? I am not sure if it only happens when you refrain from laughing, but yeah some people I guess laugh like that.
You might call it a stifled laugh, as in, “Mary tried to contain herself, but couldn’t help letting out a stifled laugh.” You could also use the word snicker (either as a verb or noun) or possibly titter - though the latter might sound a little dated and silly.
This "pfft" could be called a "snicker".
Also, sometimes the stifled laugh comes out not as a "pfft" but more of a "snort" if you try to keep the laugh inside by shutting your mouth.
At deviantart.com, you can see the entirety of a cartoon titled
It may be hard to read because the lettering is so small, but the characters are trying not to laugh, and are emitting the words "snicker" & "snort" (highlighted in yellow) instead.
How about the word snort. It could be used in a sentence like:
When Nick told his wife about the narrow escape from a traffic ticket Betty tried to withhold a chuckle that came out as a snort.
How about Titter? I came across it a while ago doing a crossword on a plane.
verb: titter; 3rd person present: titters; past tense: tittered; past participle: tittered; gerund or present participle: tittering
- give a short, half-suppressed laugh; giggle. "her stutter caused the children to titter"
synonyms: giggle, snigger, snicker, tee-hee, give a half-suppressed laugh, chuckle;
noun: titter; plural noun: titters
- a short, half-suppressed laugh. "there were titters from the gallery"
synonyms: giggle, snigger, snicker, tee-hee, half-suppressed laugh, chuckle;
According to wordhippo, a suppressed laugh is:
A half-suppressed, typically scornful laugh
The site also offers these synonyms:
snigger, snicker, giggle, chortle, sneer, cackle, chuckle, guffaw, simper
I tend to think of guffaw, although Merriam-Webster says this is "loud laughter," how about a stifled guffaw?
I think at this point pfft is an onomatopoeia.
It's a part of my vocabulary at least, but it's more like a stand in for the word pashaw. Which is an exclamation about the hilarity of an incredulous situation. It's a way to 'call bullshit' without swearing, or to preserve the lightheartedness of a conversation.
He let out a pfft but I wasn't sure if he was actually annoyed, or just trying to not hurt my feelings by laughing it off.