• Enjoyment, liveliness, or good humor, often together with laughter


Chuckling at a joke is a nice feeling, but experiencing mirth is downright wonderful. Mirth is a circumstance marked not only by laughter, but by an enjoyable sense of letting go. Rather than just a quick, wimpy little snicker or smile, mirth entails giddy ebullience, a carefree attitude, and, often, full-on belly laughs.

Mirth is a lovely word that describes lively amusement and blithe good humor. Usually appearing only in writing and formal settings, mirth is a somewhat stilted term, often used when the speaker is attempting to sound official or grandiose. Don't let this scare you from using the word, though: the sense of joy and untroubled mindset mirth implies make it a worthwhile choice if you're fortunate enough to get the opportunity! Mirth can be experienced alone, but it typically occurs in company of family or friends, where the participants have let their guards down and are enjoying jokes and merriment. Laughter is a frequent companion of mirth, as the word often suggests that one is happy enough to heartily chortle out loud.

One last key to understanding mirth is the idea that it is not an isolated incident. If you laugh at a joke someone tells you and then move on, mirth would be too strong a word to describe what you're feeling. Rather, mirth is an attitude, an overall mood of happiness and jocularity. If you're in a state of mirth, you're fully enjoying yourself, allowing yourself to be swept up in fun for a period of time.

Example: Jane and Amy could hardly contain their mirth as they giggled over jokes and s'mores in front of the campfire.

Example: The locker-room was filled with mirth as the football team celebrated their victory.


Mirth seems to be Germanic in origin, with one of its earliest forms being the Proto-German murgitha (a surprisingly ugly sounding word for "enjoyment" or "amusement"). The word kept this meaning as it evolved into the Old English myrgth. Undoubtedly, everyone was pleased to drop the "g," as the common form of mirth has been in use since at least the twelfth century.

Derivative Words

Mirthful: The adjective form of mirth describes something as being full of joy and laughter.

Example: The comedian's mirthful audience guffawed loudly at even his worst jokes.

Mirthfully: The adverb form of mirth characterizes an action as related to pleasure and amusement.

Example: The children mirthfully ran around the playground, caught up in their game of freeze-tag.

Mirthfulness: This noun describes a tendency for laughter and gaiety.

Example: The students' mirthfulness soon began to annoy the straight-laced teacher.

Mirthless: This adjective refers to solemnity and an absence of levity.

Example: Carl knew from his brother's mirthless expression that something was amiss.

Mirthlessly: This adverb characterizes an action as being without joy or levity.

Example: Joanie mirthlessly called for her grandsons, her ire aroused by the muddy footprints on the floor.

In Literature

From Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers:

Above all, he saw that men like himself, who snarled at the mirth and cheerfulness of others, were the foulest weeds on the fair surface of the earth; and setting all the good of the world against the evil, he came to the conclusion that it was a very decent and respectable sort of world after all.

Here, the narrator is having an epiphany of sorts, realizing that it often does no good to act spitefully and that, in a sense, the world is what one makes of it. Mirth belongs to the good of the world.


  • Having mirth means being merry!


Laughter, Joy, Carefree, Amusement

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of mirth. Did you use mirth in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.