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From Middle English merth, myrthe, murhthe, from Old English mergþ, mirgþ, myrgþ (mirth, joy), from Proto-West Germanic *murgiþu (briefness, brevity); equivalent to merry +‎ -th. Cognate with Middle Dutch merchte (pleasure, joy, delight).



mirth (usually uncountable, plural mirths)

  1. The emotion usually following humour and accompanied by laughter
    Synonyms: merriment, delight, glee, hilarity, jollity, (dated) gaiety
    Antonyms: sadness, gloom
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London, Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, →OCLC:
      And he began to laugh again, and that so heartily, that, though I did not see the joke as he did, I was again obliged to join him in his mirth.
    • 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.
    • 1912, Willa Cather, The Bohemian Girl::
      Their eyes met and they began to laugh. They laughed as children do when they cannot contain themselves, and can not explain the cause of their mirth to grown people, but share it perfectly together.
  2. That which causes merriment.

Derived terms[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English myrgþ.



  1. Alternative form of myrthe

Etymology 2[edit]

Derived from myrthe (noun).



  1. Alternative form of myrthen