|Babies are the Masters of Chortle|
(photo by Petra Gagilas)
Verb & noun. Late 19th century.
[Invented by Lewis Carroll: apparently blend of CHUCKLE verb and SNORT verb.]
A verb intrans. & trans. Utter (with) a loud gleeful chuckle; express pleasure or satisfaction in this way. L19
B noun. A chuckle of pleasure or satisfaction; an act of chortling. E20
I asked to write this post for chortle because it is yet another of those great phonosemantic words that I love so much - in the vast experiential range from a titter to a guffaw, a chortle has to be one of my favorites. It has a delightfully undignified ring to it, like something hilariously out of control. The whole sound and construction of the word is astonishingly apt to describe that particular and specific range of laughter. It’s not sinister, but resonant, frog-like and throaty. I just imagine a heavyset man with a red face chortling over a cut of meat ... chortle, chortle, chortle ...
Imagine my delight, therefore, when I discovered that the word was an invention, and a recent one at that. Lewis Carroll apparently blended snort and chuckle to create a delightfully formulated word to blend those two actions. I love the idea of a writer reaching for a word … only to find that the perfect descriptor doesn't exist, and therefore creating his own. I think these modern additions to the popular lexicon are absolutely fascinating and inspiring.
|I'm pretty sure there's a plate of meat just off-camera|
(photo by Nina J. Grant)
And so, loyal Lexicolatrists, are there forms of laughter the English language has yet to categorize?
And if so, perhaps we could honor the esteemed Mr. Carroll by contributing one of our own.
The OED awaits ... as does the comments section below.