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From Middle English caclen, cakelen. Compare Dutch kakelen (to cackle), German Low German kakeln (to cackle), German kakeln (to blather), Danish kagle (to cackle), Swedish kackla (to cackle). Compare also Old English cahhetan, ċeahhettan (to laugh loudly; cackle), German gackern (to cackle).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkækəl/
  • Rhymes: -ækəl
  • (file)


cackle (countable and uncountable, plural cackles)

  1. The cry of a hen or goose, especially when laying an egg.
  2. A laugh resembling the cry of a hen or goose.
  3. Futile or excessively noisy talk.
    • 1930, Frank Richards, The Magnet, All Quiet on the Greyfriars Front
      There's no time to waste on silly cackle.
  4. A group of hyenas.



cackle (third-person singular simple present cackles, present participle cackling, simple past and past participle cackled)

  1. (intransitive) To make a sharp, broken noise or cry, as a hen or goose does.
  2. (intransitive) To laugh with a broken sound similar to a hen's cry.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in The Mirror and the Lamp[1]:
      She was a fat, round little woman, richly apparelled in velvet and lace, […]; and the way she laughed, cackling like a hen, the way she talked to the waiters and the maid, […]—all these unexpected phenomena impelled one to hysterical mirth, and made one class her with such immortally ludicrous types as Ally Sloper, the Widow Twankey, or Miss Moucher.
    The witch cackled evilly.
  3. (intransitive) To talk in a silly manner; to prattle.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Johnson to this entry?)



See also[edit]