cười (v) to laugh, smile or chuckle.
cười ầm (v) to laugh with a booming voice.
cười bò (v) to laugh while crawling on the ground, usually said of children or drunkards.
cười bối rối (v) to laugh nervously while confused.
cười buồn (v) to smile wanly or in grief.
cười cầu tài (v) to grin while kissing ass.
cười chảy nước mắt (v) to laugh oneself into tears, usually from some absurd situation.
cười chê (v) to laugh in contempt.
cười chúm chím (v) to smile or laugh modestly or coquettishly, without showing teeth, said of young women.
cười cợt (v) to laugh while goofing around.
cười cười nói nói (fig of sp) laugh laugh talk talk, i.e., to be loquacious.
cười dở mếu dở (fig of sp) to half laugh, half wear a twisted face, i.e., to be in an awkward if not impossible situation.
cười duyên dáng (v) to smile charmingly, said of young women.
cười đến chết (v) to laugh oneself to death, i.e., uncontrollably.
cười điệu (v) to smile rehearsedly and exaggeratedly, while picturing oneself smiling, of course, said of young women.
cười đùa ngả ngốn (fig of sp) to laugh and joke while staggering around, i.e., to be frivolous.
cười gằn (v) to laugh with curt, half-swallowed sounds as one's eyes flash hatred, contempt or anger.
cười giòn (v) to laugh in loud, crisp, echoing bursts.
cười góp (v) to laugh because others are laughing, without knowing why.
cười ha hả (v) to laugh shamelessly in deep, sometimes inane satisfaction.
cười hềnh hệch (v) to laugh contentedly or smugly, with mouth wide open.
cười hì hì (v) to laugh with moderate mirth and slitty eyes, making hee hee sounds.
cười híp mắt (v) to laugh with eyes nearly shut.
cười hô hố (v) to laugh uninhibitedly, sometimes rudely or vulgarly, making ho ho sounds.


cười khà (v) to guffaw hoarsely, usually said of men, especially old or drunken.
cười khanh khách (v) to laugh boisterously, in rapid bursts.
cười khẩy (v) to sneer.
cười khì (v) to chortle.
cười khúc khích (v) to giggle.
cười lả lớt (v) to smile flirtatiously.
cười lạt (v) to grin uncomfortably, politely or from resignation.
cười lăn (v) to laugh while rolling on the ground.
cười lăn lộn (v) to laugh spasmatically while writhing or rolling on the ground.
cười lẳng (v) to smile with erotic desire, intent, suggestion or imperative.
cười mát (v) to smile cooly, ironically.
cười màu mè (v) to smile theatrically or grotesquely, to simper, to parody smiling.
cười mếm chi (v) to barely smile, more with the eyes than with the mouth.
cười móm mém (v) to smile earnestly yet pathetically, without teeth, forcing unpropped lips to gargle nostalgically a mouthful of exhausted air, said of old people.
cười múm mím (v) to smile with lips nearly closed, from mild amusement, a lame joke or out of modesty.
cười mũi (v) to laugh without opening mouth, with just the nose snorting serially, to convey disgust.
cười nắc nẻ (v) to laugh in rolling waves.
cười ngặt nghẽo (v) to laugh convulsively.
cười ngất (v) to laugh until one’s out of breath.
cười ngây ngô (v) to laugh with a vapid face.
cười ngượng (v) to laugh from embarassment, against one's will.
cười nhạt (v) to laugh wearily, palely, in defeat perhaps.
cười nhếch mép (v) to snicker or snort sarcastically, with barely a facial muscle disturbed.
cười nhoẻn (v) to smile brightly, without ambivalence.
cười như đười ươi (fig of sp) to laugh like an orangutan.
cười như hoa nở (fig of sp) to smile like a flower blooming.
cười như pháo ran (fig of sp) to laugh like firecrackers exploding.
cười nịnh (v) to smile obsequiously, likely while currying favors.
cười nôn ruột (v) to laugh in paroxysms from deep inside the belly.
cười nụ (v) to feign a smile, approximate a flower bud with one’s mouth.
cười nửa miệng (v) to smile with half the mouth, i.e., with ambivalence.
cười ồ (v) to laugh uproariously, sometimes in mockery.
cười phá lên (v) to explode into laughter.
cười phát ho (v) to laugh oneself into coughing.
cười ra nước mắt (fig of sp) to laugh when one should be crying, i.e., to laugh bitterly.
cười ré lên (v) to laugh while shrieking.
cười rộ (v) to laugh while roaring, howling or hooting, usually said of crowds.
cười rũ rượi (v) to laugh oneself into exhaustion.
cười rúc rích (v) to giggle.
cười ruồi (v) to laugh at some hidden amusement or joke, or for no reason at all.
cười sặc sụa (v) to laugh oneself hoarse.
cười sằng sặc (v) to laugh hysterically.
cười té đái (v) to piss one’s pants laughing.
cười thầm (v) to laugh or smile inwardly or surreptitiously.
cười tếch toác (v) to laugh heartily.
cười tình (v) to smile affectionately, said of couples.
cười toe toét (v) to laugh gleefully with a wide mouth.
cười trừ (v) to laugh evasively to avoid saying something incriminating or unpleasant.
cười tủm tỉm (v) to smile discreetly, often over a private joke or understanding with another.
cười vào mặt ai (v) to laugh in someone’s face.
cười vỡ bụng (v) to split one’s sides laughing.
cười xòa (v) to laugh off an unpleasant fact or incident.

Originally Published: May 28th, 2008

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and the novel Love...

  1. June 2, 2008
     Angela G.

    This is great, Linh! I don't think I've ever seen a huge list of words, or rather short concise phrases, for laughter before, in any language. What would you attribute this to?

  2. June 2, 2008
     Linh Dinh

    Hi Angela,
    Vietnamese is rich with tactile descriptions, not so great with abstractions and invisible creatures and substances. All of these words, for example, ghẻ chẻc, ghẻ cóc, ghẻ lở, ghẻ nÆ°ớc, ghẻ ruồi, ghẻ sán chỉ and ghẻ tàu--and there are more, I'm sure--denote different types of skin rash. Also, the economy of the language allows for many compound words.

  3. June 2, 2008
     Angela G.

    The list alone makes me laugh. :D