Chortle is a very common synonym for 'laugh', although arguably more specific in the type of laugh. I've been ignoring this word for some time since whenever I think I finally know how to use it I see another definition which makes me wonder how it's different to the generic 'laugh'.
The explanation that makes most sense to me is that chortle is a combination of a 'chuckle' and a 'snort'. Therefore: a quieter/subdued laugh with the mouth closed, and the air escaping the nose (snort) rather than the mouth.
Now the reason I'm breaking this down to such an nth degree, is for characters, the way they express themselves is important. For example, if a character cackles rather than laughs you'd assume they're either evil or crazy or both. So apart from the definition above I have two further queries to break this down:
- Some definitions suggest to chortle means you have a level of glee, pleasure or satisfaction. What I'm wondering is, since laughing generally has those anyway, does this mean that to chortle you have an excess amount of this, as in similar to a happily evil cackle? Or is chortle considered less subdued?
- Secondly, my understanding is that this is not the same as a snorting laugh, which is louder and used more for humour?
- I am also thinking that this is not the same as snarfing a laugh, or trying to stop laughter by closing your mouth which can lead to a chortle if it is too hard to control
Anyway, looking for to some insight into this elusively defined word. I look forward to your suggestions.
Here is the best example I was able to find of a chortle. In the beginning of the video everyone is snarfing their laughs, but by this point they give up and resort to a full on chortle instead, but still maintain enough respect to not do an open mouthed laugh.