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Hahaha Vs Hehehe. Lol Is Almost Dead


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OK for the guys who e-laugh by haha, you are old. The NewYorker says the younger people hehe.


Hahaha vs. Hehehe



I’m a big real-life laugher, and in recent years, in e-mails, chats, and texts, I’ve become a big “haha”-er. You say something hilarious, I’ll write a few “ha”s. That’s how I e-laugh. I realize that this isn’t especially dignified. My “haha”s make me look the way I do in party photos: open-mouthed, loud, a little vulgar. Writing “hahaha” makes you look deranged, but, then again, so does laughing. I’ve accepted this state of affairs, and my friends have, too, for the most part. I like a good-faith representation of how much laughing we’re doing and how hard we’re doing it. Some of my friends are above it—they don’t “ha” much or at all, which makes me self-conscious. They accept an amusing back-and-forth as a normal course of events and press on hilariously, without a lot of ha-ha goofery. I can’t do that. Even among those regal beagles, I have to laugh away.

The terms of e-laughter—“ha ha,” “ho ho,” “hee hee,” “heh”—are implicitly understood by just about everybody. But, in recent years, there’s been an increasingly popular newcomer: “hehe.” Not surprisingly, it’s being foisted upon us by youth. What does it mean?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. The basic unit of written laughter, which we’ve long known from books and comics, is “ha.” The “ha” is like a Lego, a building block, with which we can construct more elaborate hilarity. It sounds like a real laugh. Ha! The “ha” is transparent, like “said.” If you’re chatting or texting, a single “ha” means that a joke has occurred, and you’re respectfully tipping your hat to it, but that’s all it deserves. If I say something hilarious and I get one “ha,” it’s a real kick in the teeth. If I make a mild observation, a “ha” is just great.

The feel-good standard in chat laughter is the simple, classic “haha”: a respectful laugh. “Haha” means you’re genuinely amused, and that maybe you laughed a little in real life. (The singsong Nelson Muntz-style “ha ha,” of course, is completely different—we don’t do this to our friends. There’s also the sarcastic “ha ha,” a British colleague reminded me: he’s used to reading “ha ha” as “Oh, ha ha,” as in, Aren’t you a wag. “But I’m learning to read it as good,” he said. Poor guy.) “Hahaha” means that you’re really amused: now you’re cooking. More than three “ha”s are where joy takes flight. When you’re doing this, you’re laughing at your desk and your co-workers can hear you, or you’re texting with both hands, clacking and laughing away. Somebody has been naughty and fun: a scandalous remark, a zinger, a gut laugh, the high-grade stuff. If things get totally bananas, you might throw a few “j”s in there, because you’re too incapacitated by joy to type properly.

I tend to put spaces between my “ha”s, but, if I’m laughing and typing like a house afire, I leave them out. If I’m about to lose my marbles, I’ll use all caps, maybe an exclamation point, but at that point exclamation points are mostly superfluous. My phone has a “haha” autocorrect that turns a reasonably good laugh into a deranged mess—an incoherent hahhhahaahahhh or a crazy HAHAHAHAHA—and if I hit send before catching it, I send a retraction. You need to be judicious with your all-caps—honest about how violently you’re laughing and how sane you are.

There are other terms in the lexicon. “Heh” is for a sort of satisfyingly good point, a nice moment shared, with a possible hint of down-home vulgarity. “Ho ho” indicates that someone needs a mild scolding after a bad joke, as when a friend mentioned “the Genesis stuff” and I, knowing that he meant Noah’s ark, typed something about Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. That was beneath me, and I deserved “ho ho,” or worse. (My friend who often uses a single “ha,” a “heh,” or a “ho ho” is also my friend who is most reluctant to high five. If you get a high five or a “ha ha” out of him, it’s a red-letter day. If he ever wrote “hahaha,” I’d take him to the emergency room.) “Hee hee” is cute and conspiratorial. Hee hee, we’re gossiping in the corner! Hee hee, he texted me! Hee hee, isn’t life grand! It’s similar to “tee hee,” which is extremely cute. Possibly too cute. If you’re saying “tee hee,” you’re in love, beautifully giddy, or up to no good. You might need to take it down a notch.

Then there’s the mysterious “hehe.” “Hehe” is a younger person’s e-laugh. My stepsister has used it, and she’s a person who also says “hiiii”—but, reassuringly to me, she’s also one of the best hahahahaha-ers in the business. A friend who’s in his thirties and savvy, with friends of all ages, uses “hehe.” I find it charming—he’s a perfect speller, and he’s a lively, tidy writer, and his “hehe”s are a strange mystery. I know what they mean: friendly, somewhat sneaky giggling at a shared joke. But why the single “e”?

I consider “hehe” to be the “woah” of laughter—an odd but common enough misspelling of a common term of social communication. I think it’s “hee hee,” our conspiratorial buddy, sweetly shortened to “haha” length in a slightly bizarre way. Is it more a masculine “hee hee”—literally a bunch of “he”s? Is it a squished-up “heh,” with some filigree? Is it a cross between “haha,” “hee hee,” and “heh”? I asked around.

First, I asked people my age and older. (I’m forty-two.) A TV writer said, “ ‘Hehehe’ reminds me of Scooby-Doo. Unless it’s ‘heh’ as in ‘hepatitis’?” Good point: Scooby’s laugh is a sneaky, musical series of “hee-hee”s. And he’s no speller. (I don’t think it’s heh as in “hepatitis.”) A writer and professor visiting the office said that his students use it, perplexing him. He imagines it sounding like a lofty “Hee-hee-hee!,” which, as he pronounced it, was an airy la-di-da sound that evoked brandy snifters and drollery. He, too, has to remind himself to read it as standard giggling.

Then, the nitty-gritty: the hehe-ers themselves. One user said that she thought of “hehe” as “more of an evil giggle and less of a straightforward crack-up.” That’s definitely a hee-hee. Her friend thinks of it as “a more covert laugh” and pronounces it “heh heh,” and said that it can be “evil or private and shared.” Was it like “hee hee” and “heh heh” smashed together? I asked. Yes, it was, she said. An adventurous writer in his mid-thirties agreed that it was a mischievous laugh, pronounced “heh heh,” and said that he uses it to indicate that he’s being “super-casual,” and as a “sort of knot to tie off a back-and-forth exchange.” If he senses that there’s a “small amount of awkwardness” in the exchange, he uses “hehehe” to dissolve it or to inoculate both parties against it. He waved his hands around while describing this, and I imagined a baker using frosting to cover imperfections in a cake.

My savvy friend whose use of “hehe” provoked all these questions said that “hehe” is one of his favorite words. He pronounces it “heh heh,” to indicate mild amusement “without having to resort to emoticons, LOLs, or ROTFLs.” He said that “haha” indicates “more serious amusement,” and adds extra “ha”s for “more serious mirth.” He wrote, “There is no such thing as “hehehe” in my vocab, though.” Noted.

Another young “hehe”-er thinks that it’s “hee-hee,” doesn’t know where he picked it up, and enjoys that it helps him avoid older terms like “hahaha” and “LOL.” “Have to keep things updated,” he wrote me in a chat.

That’s just what I’d suspected and feared: while I’m ha-ha-ing my way into middle age, younger people have coined a new laugh. Good for them. They’re “heh-heh”ing to professors who hear “hee-hee”ing; they’re being conspiratorial with fortysomethings confused by the terms of the conspiracy. I’m just glad we’re all having a good time. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch “Hee Haw.”

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In a rejoinder to the above NewYorker Post, Facebook provided data to show people HaHa and HeHee. :) the emoji way still going strong. But LOL is almost dead.


The Not So Universal Language of Laughter



Several weeks ago, Sarah Larson from The New Yorker published a fun article about e-laughter (all the hahas and lols we use to communicate with our friends online) and their social subtleties. Like any "dialect," e-laughing is evolving. Curious as to whether her usage followed up-to-date social norms, she consulted her savvy friends for answers. Anecdotally, she found that laughter tended to vary by age and gender.

But why rely on anecdotes when you have data? We analyzed de-identified posts and comments posted on Facebook in the last week of May with at least one string of characters matching laughter1. We did the matching with regular expressions which automatically identified laughter in the text, including variants of hahaheheemoji, and lol2.

As denizens of the Internet will know, laughter is quite common: 15% of people included laughter in a post or comment that week. The most common laugh is haha, followed by various emoji and hehe. Age, gender and geographic location play a role in laughter type and length: young people and women prefer emoji, whereas men prefer longer hehes. People in Chicago and New York prefer emoji, while Seattle and San Francisco prefer hahas. Let's dive in.


Ms. Larson's first concern was that she laughs a lot, whereas some of her friends are "above it and don't use has too much." We found that roughly 15% of the people who posted or commented during that week used at least one e-laugh. So Ms. Larson - have no worries - it's pretty common to laugh online!

For those people that laughed, we analyzed how many times they laughed. The plot below shows the distribution of the number of laughs, indicating that around 46% of the people posted only a single laugh during the week, and 85% posted fewer than five laughs. The plot also shows how many different laughs people used (labeled as 'Unique') - 52% of people used a single type of laugh, and roughly 20% used two different types.


Since most people used a single type of laugh, we classified people in our dataset into four categories based on their most commonly used laugh. For brevity of the plots, we write these as hahahehelol and emoji. Keep in mind that the class label includes a wide range of laughs, e.g., haha includes terms like hahahahahahaahhhaa, etc. Here's the breakdown:


As the pie chart shows, the vast majority of people in our dataset are haha-ers (51.4%), then there are the emoji lovers (33.7%), the hehe-ers (12.7%), and finally, the lol-ers (1.9%).

Ms. Larson discusses the emergence of the peculiar hehe, which is "poised upon us by the youth." Are the hehes really a more youthful expression than hahas? The data say: not so! We found that across all age groups, from 13 to 70, the most common laughs are still haha,hahahahahahaha, and only then followed by hehe. If hehe is not particularly favored younger people, are there other distinctive ways youth express themselves? To answer this we collected all emoji, hahas, hehes and even the lols, and looked at the distribution of ages3:


This plot shows that the median person (the dashed line) that uses emoji is slightly younger than the median haha person, but both of these are younger than the people using hehes andlols!

Ms. Larson also suggests that a ha is like a lego piece, which people use to convey different "levels" of laughter, ranging from the polite haha to a deranged hahahahahahaha. So we look at the lengths of laughs by type:


Indeed, as Ms. Larson points out, the peaks in the even numbers indicate that people treat thehas and hes as building blocks, and usually prefer not to add extra letters. No heh hehs here. (Settle down, Beavis.) The most common are the four letter hahas and hehes. The six letterhahaha is also very common, and in general, the hahaers use longer laughter. The hahaers are also slightly more open than the hehe-ers to using odd number of letters, and we do see the occasional hahaas and hhhhaaahhhaas. The lol almost always stands by itself, though some rare specimens of lolz and loll were found. A single emoji is used 50% of the time, and it's quite rare to see people use more than 5 identical consecutive emoji. Perhaps emoji offer a concise way to convey various forms of laughter?

You might have noticed that we cut the plot at 20 letters, but as with any behavior on the Internet, there is a long tail of laughter lengths. Our automatic regular expression parser gave up after trying to get through a haha over 600 letters long! Computers have a long way to go before they can truly understand the human condition. We weren't laughing that day.

Finally, Ms. Larson raised the suspicion that hehe is a more masculine laugh, since it's made up of "a bunch of he's" Well then, let's take a look at the distribution of laughter across genders:


Both men and women like their hahas and emoji, followed by hehes and lols. The hahas and to some extent the hehes are preferred by men, whereas emoji are clearly dominated by women, who also seem to like the lols a bit more than men.

So we see that there are patterns in laughter on Facebook, but they are quite different from the anecdotal evidence presented in the New Yorker article. Then it hit us: maybe the difference is because Ms. Larson is hanging out with cool people from New York City. So we plotted the distribution of laughter across a bunch of cities. We focus on New York, San Francisco, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago and Seattle and got the following:


Indeed laughter varies by city, so we created heatmaps to see the popularity of the different types of laughter across states in the USA. For each laughter type, the map shows the fraction of laughter in each state out of the total laughter. The darker the color is, the more popular a laugh is compared to other states:


The maps broadly show that haha and hehe are more popular on the west coast, emoji are the weapon of choice in the midwest, and southern states are fond of lol. Presidential campaigns, take note: the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia are haha states, while the candidates' emoji games will surely be key in determining who emerges victorious in Florida.


Special thanks to Moira Burke and the team members of Core Data Science.


1. We limit this study to posts and comments and do not look at direct messages through Messenger. In her article, Ms. Larson discusses conversations on messaging apps that might have different nuances from text posted on Facebook. Additionally, although we consider people from all around the world, we focus on English laughter and emoji. 

2. Although we looked at global shares from around the world, we restrict this study to the following (mostly English) regular expressions: 
In addition we used the following emoji unicodes: (\udbb8\udf34)+|(\ud83d\ude0c)+|(\ud83d\ude01)+|(\ud83d\ude1b)+|(\ud83d\ude1d)+|(\ud83d\ude1c)+|(\ud83d\ude09)+|(\ud83d\ude0a)+|(\ud83d\ude00)+|(\ud83d\ude03)+|(\ud83d\ude04)+|(\ud83d\ude06)+|(\ud83d\ude0b)+ 
That translates to the following emoji "words" (a sequence of one or more of the following):11409220_1470177099969468_878978711_n.pn

3. This is a violin plot that visualizes the distribution of measurements with markers for the median (dashed line), the 25th and the 75th percentiles (lower and upper dotted lines, respectively). The width of each "violin" is relative to the number of samples at each value point over the total samples in the group.
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I don't care ... I  :heheheheh" from the 1980s and I will "heheheheh" till my last day on earth.

** Comments are my opinions, same as yours. It's not a 'Be-All-and-End-All' view. Intent's to thought-provoke, validate, reiterate and yes, even correct. Opinion to consider but agree to disagree. I don't enjoy conflicted exchanges, empty bravado or egoistical chest pounding. It's never personal, tribalistic or with malice. Frank by nature, means, I never bend the truth. Views are to broaden understanding - Updated: Nov 2021.

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Hehe :P

Edited by fab



never argue with the guests. let them bark all they want.





After I have said what I wanna say, I don't care what you say.



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Guest Funny man


Stop over analysing the simple things in life.

Just enjoy being spontaneous without worrying about these dumb statistics.

It's like tearing a good joke apart to analyse under the microscope.

It loses its humor instantly.

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Ha(h) - Patronising laugh / Even more patronising laugh

Haha - Old school, somewhat patronising laugh

Hahaha - Joke level 1

HAHAHAHA - Joke level 9000


He(h) - Nobody says this. / "Yeah right."

Hehe - Cheeky laugh, hints of being naughty or "naughty".

Hehehe - This guy wants you.. real bad.



Ho - Whore? lulwut?

Hoho - Santa wannabe.

Hohoho - Santa. The real one.

HOHOHOHOHO - The one you seek advice from. Yes, old is gold.


Hue(h) - Not hue as in colour hue. To express disbelief. "Hue" or "Ahue".

Huehue - Sarcastic laugh.

Huehuehue - FTFY, this is how it should be.



LOL - Standard singular, one laugh (HA) [Variants: LUL, LAWL]


LMAO - Because my ass is better than my mouth at it. I'm not even kidding.

ROFL - You made me fell off my chair. Congratulations, you have won!!!

ROFLMAO - Because ROFL isn't enough.

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I think hehe sounds cheeky or perverted so it's quite inappropriate for regular conversations.

Always get turned off when people use it in conversations. Sounds so sleazy. Ugh.

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Guest literati


I think hehe sounds cheeky or perverted so it's quite inappropriate for regular conversations.

Always get turned off when people use it in conversations. Sounds so sleazy. Ugh.

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