Can You Tell What They Mean from These Different Types of Smiley Faces?

HSK 3 quiz

You may not know him, but you must have posted or seen him on social media. His name is Gavin Thomas, a cute 7-year-old American child and at the same time one of the online celebrities in China in recent days.

His smile is a perfect blend of embarrassment and politeness, unnaturalness and grace, pride and humility.

He was born with the ability to make all sorts of facial expressions and to show different emotions, which fast became deeply loved by Chinese netizens and they dubbed him the “smirking kid.”

假笑 (Jiǎ xiào): smirk, to smile in a way that is insincere or unnatural

So, here’s where the questions come in.

What other Chinese expressions about laughter do you know besides “smirking” mentioned above?

Do you know what the happiest laugh is? How to express the most elegant laugh in Chinese? And how to describe the most terrible laugh in Chinese?

In fact, there are a variety of Chinese expressions of “笑 (xiào).” Let’s have a look today.

(Learn Further About “笑 (Xiào)” Through a Sweet Song)

1. 微笑 (Wēixiào) smile – the most natural way of laughing


Tā shì yígè yǒushàn de rén, chángcháng miàn dài wēixiào.
She is a friendly person who often goes around wearing a smile.

2. 嘲笑 (Cháoxiào) laugh at; deride – the most horrible way of laughing


Wǒmen bù yīnggāi cháoxiào chéngjì luòhòu de tóngxué.
We should not laugh at classmates who are falling behind in their studies.

3. 哄笑 (Hōngxiào) guffaw – the most boisterous way of laughing


Tīng dào zhège xiàohua, bān shàng suǒyǒu rén bàofā chū yízhèn hōngxiào.
Everyone in class burst into guffaws upon hearing the joke.

4. 傻笑 (Shǎxiào) giggle – the most innocent way of laughing


Shōu dào nǚpéngyǒu de duǎnxìn huífù zhī hòu, tā yìzhí kàn zhe shǒujī shǎxiào.
After receiving the text from his girlfriend, he looks at his phone and giggles all the time.

5. 哈哈大笑 (Hāha dàxiào) chortle – the most cheerful way of laughing


Xiǎo Míng yǐqián yì tīng dào zhèyàng de xiàohua, zǒnghuì hāha dàxiào.
Xiao Ming always starts chortling over jokes he heard before.

6. 苦笑 (Kǔxiào) laugh bitterly – the most bitter way of laughing, forced laughter


Lì Li kǔxiào yì shēng, shuō: Zhècì kǎoshì wǒ yòu kǎo zá le.
Li Li laughed bitterly and said, “I failed the test again.”

Other expressions of laughter

1. 嘻嘻 (Xīxi) whee; hee-hee

An onomatopoeia that mostly used when chatting online to show happiness or pleasure.


Tā píqì hěn hǎo, zǒngshì xiàoxīxi de.
She has a good temper and always smiles.

2. 哈哈 (Hāha) ha-ha; haw-haw

An onomatopoeia that refers to laughing from the bottom of one’ heart, and it expresses being in really happy or in a good mood.


Xiáochǒu huájī de biǎoyǎn dòu dé dàjiā hāha dàxiào.
The clown’s comical performance made the crowd burst into peals of laughter.

3. 呵呵 (Hēhe) a mimetic word for the chuckle

An onomatopoeia that is mostly used when chatting online to express strong ridicule and disdain.

Formal conversation: it’s best to avoid using “呵呵(hēhe),” or it will make your partner feel disrespected.


Bié kàn tā píngcháng lè hēhe de, fā qǐ huǒ lái kě bùdéliǎo.
Don’t pay any attention to the cheerful behavior he normally shows, when he gets mad it’s terrible.

Chinese and foreign famous sayings on smiling:

Xiào yí xiào, shí nián shào.
One laugh makes people ten years younger. –Chinese proverb

Dāng tā wēixiào shí, shìjiè ài le tā, dāng tā dàxiào shí, shìjiè biàn pà le tā.
当他微笑时,世界爱了他; 当他大笑时,世界便怕了他。
When one smiles, the world loves him, and when one laughs, the world becomes afraid of him. — Tagore

Did you laugh today? Remember to smile so that you will always be in a good mood, every single day!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following Chinese words corresponds to the English word in the quote?

After seeing my report card, Dad revealed a satisfied “smile.”


A. 笑声 (Xiàoshēng)

B. 笑话 (Xiàohua)

C. 笑容 (Xiàoróng)

2. Please choose the best answer that completes the sentence.

Wǒmen bù yīnggāi (    ) cánjí rén, ér yīnggāi xuéhuì zūnzhòng tāmen.
我们不应该(    )残疾人,而应该学会尊重他们。

A. 嘲笑 (Cháoxiào)

B. 苦笑 (Kǔxiào)

C. 微笑 (Wēixiào)

See Answer Analysis

Learn more expressions on smiling and laughing:

Do You Qualify As a Smiling Tiger Face?
A Mouth-spitting Chinese Word for Funny
你不高兴吗? (Nǐ bù gāoxìng ma?) Aren’t you happy?
Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff) 
HSK Test
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

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