Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Cachinnate – Wacky Word Wednesday

Are you in need of a roll-on-the-floor, knee-slapping, feel-in-in-your-abs laugh? No time like the present! Today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, will have you laughing your way through the day.

The wacky word definition from




to laugh loudly, immoderately, or maniacally


This word is derived from the Latin cachinnāre, which means to laugh aloud. This got us thinking: what makes us laugh or cachinnate in the first place? Think about it. You’re people-watching in the park. You see a group of friends. Their lips are moving, their arms gesturing this way and that. All of a sudden, everyone in the group suddenly throws their heads back, facial expressions immediately change, mouths open, and a powerful harmony of baritone and soprano laughter unabashedly emits. It is a funny phenomenon (in both senses of the word).

According to Robert Provine, a University of Maryland psychology and neuroscience professor, laughter is less about humor and more about the relationship between people. After a decade of researching laughter, he concluded that it doesn’t take a joke or a humorous situation to provoke a slight chuckle or small giggle; actually, most people will laugh after statements that aren’t necessarily humorous. This laughter acts as a type of social glue, cementing the friendship. Provine also discovered that laughter is a repetitive variation of either “ha-ha-ha” or “ho-ho-ho”, but never a combination of both.

So what happens when you merge the ha-ha-has and ­ho-ho-hos with a time-old tradition like yoga? As of 2009, there were 30 million people worldwide practicing yoga on a regular basis. In 1995, another branch of yoga emerged—laughter yoga. Dr. Madan Kataria conceived this idea one day in a park; since then, its following has increased to over 6,000 “Social Laughter Clubs” across 60 nations. The foundation of laughter yoga promotes laughter as a form of contagious exercise. Sessions begin with forced laughter that quickly becomes real, but fake or not, “the concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific face that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter”. To join in on the fun, find a Social Laughter Club near you. If the nearest location is still too far, there is always the option of attending one of the telephone laughter clubs, in Australia, the UK, or the US, or from where ever you are via Skype.

They sure make it accessible and convenient for you to throw your head up and cachinnate…the more maniacally, the better.

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