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Which of the following phrases is correct grammatically?

  • burst in laughter
  • burst into laughter

Or are they both correct (this is my guess)?

I'd think that to "burst in laughter" could translate to something like "burst in a state of laughter." Is this correct?

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The fixed phrase is burst into laughter. In is not used. –  John Lawler May 25 '12 at 3:52
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Although one might hear bursting out in laughter –  J.R. May 25 '12 at 9:14
    
@J.R.: That's exactly it, and can't "out" be remove from that sentence while maintaining proper grammar? –  Purag May 25 '12 at 23:20
    
If the joke is funny enough, I might burst out in laughter, or I might burst into laughter, but I won't burst in laughter. The word "in" is just not used that way. –  J.R. May 26 '12 at 5:35
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2 Answers

To express sudden utterance or expression usual collocation is burst into

He burst into tears.

In some situations in might be possible to imply sudden movement or action. Compare:

He burst in without knocking.
he burst into the room.
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I've never heard or read "burst in laughter" in 65+ years of reading and speaking, so "I'd have to say that "burst into laughter" is the correct idiom. "Burst in a state of laughter" doesn't mean the same thing as "burst into laughter". The latter phrase means that someone suddenly started laughing rather loudly (bombs burst and make big noises), while "Burst in a state of laughter" means that someone or something (a robot?) broke (burst or exploded like a balloon) while laughing. Idioms often cannot be understood simply by looking at the words they contain.

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"He burst in laughter" ... meaning: He laughed so hard that he burst. Hopefully just some buttons came loose, and not a more serious form of bursting... –  GEdgar May 25 '12 at 16:16
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