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When can I use "derisive laugh"? What does it mean? Is it the way when a villain in movie laughs at hero who almost lost the fight?

2 Answers 2

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A derisive laugh is a laugh intended to scorn or mock something.

So yes, a villain laughing at a hero's failed attempt would be a perfect example of a derisive laugh.

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  • So all the following means the same thing? 1) He laughs derisively. 2) He laughs scornfully 3) He snickers.
    – T2E
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 19:52
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You can use the phrase derisive laugh to describe someone's laughter whenever you want to be certain that the reader knows the person laughing wants to show ridicule and scorn for the person being laughed at.

This is a matter of writing style, however. Really good writers usually don't need to specify that a character's laugh was derisive. Context and the character's character should generally, but not always, of course, tell the reader that kind of thing.

See Google Books for an example of "derisive laugh" in a published book: Laughing gods, weeping virgins: laughter in the history of religion (middle of page 146), by Ingvild Sælid Gilhus.

You can also indicate this in many other ways, e.g.:

After Luca's poignant but incoherent speech had finally ended, Tony the Bomber rolled his eyes and snorted for a few seconds before he pulled the trigger. He wanted to send Luca a message that he could take with him to the Pearly Gates and the rest of his family.

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  • oh! I see. So all the following means the same thing? 1) He laughs derisively. 2) He laughs scornfully 3) He snickers.
    – T2E
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 15:21
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    @user43286- snickering may mean the same thing in certain contexts, but snicker can also mean simply a stifled or muffled laugh with no hint of contempt. E.g., two kids snickering at a joke while the teacher's back is turned.
    – Jim
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 4:39

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