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I had a hard time finding the English origin of this interjection and how it technically should be written. I am often ridiculed in written conversations, especially those that are informal, because I might reply to something funny with, "Ha ha ha." It seems as if the accepted way to colloquially spell this is "hahaha."

When asked about it, I actually admitted that the original spelling might have been something like "ha-ha-ha," similar to how "goodbye" seems to have been originally written as "good-bye."

What is the correct way?

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Which “ha ha” do you mean? The one that’s a minor third descending, or the one that’s a perfect fourth ascending? –  tchrist Mar 16 '13 at 18:11
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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

ODO has “ha ha”. Normal rules of capitalization, punctuation and the like apply, so a complete interjection might be written “Ha ha ha!”

As an onomatopaeic word, it would be possible to join the individual sounds together to get hahaha but this is more suited to less formal environments.

Don’t hyphenate it, because a ha-ha is something rather different.

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There was no original spelling. Interjections are outside the conventions of English spelling because they are all sound, no meaning. Identify the sound and you get (some of) the meaning. hahaha is the accepted form among your friends, so if you want to be like your friends (which is the normal reason for learning a new language/dialect/convention), txt like your friends. After all, that's all they're seeing; that's you. –  John Lawler Mar 16 '13 at 16:11
    
wiktionary shows a cross-sectional view of a ha-ha or haha and shows both spellings for it, while wikipedia only shows hyphenated form. –  jwpat7 Mar 16 '13 at 19:33
    
@John Lawler: I don't want to be like my friends. I just wanted a justification for using the spelling I preferred. :) –  LucasTizma Mar 16 '13 at 21:12
    
You don't need one, then. You can make up your own. Nihil Obstat –  John Lawler Mar 16 '13 at 22:06
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