Smile and laughter are mostly expressions of joy, happiness and pleasure. Their physical appearance is well known. However, there are many aspects about both smile and laughter which are unknown to common people.  The main purpose of this article is to provide that information so that any over simplification or misconception about their nature, purpose, form and results is removed and people can enrich themselves with their true benefits.

There is a general belief that smile and laughter are closely related and some people  think of them as twin sister and brother. There is another concept that laughter is continuation of the process initiated by smile. This is not always the case. There might be occasions when a smile may be followed by laughter, but that all depends upon a variety of factors ranging from the nature of content/event leading to a smile, the situation, environment and the people present at the occasion. Before going in to details, about relation between smile and laughter it will be proper to look in to both separately.


A smile is defined as:  A facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and indicating pleasure, amusement, or derision. A pleasant or favorable disposition or aspect. To express cheerful acceptance or equanimity

Simply speaking the physical description forms an important part of the definition that has become a symbol of pleasure, amusement, cheerfulness and sometime derision. Thus, the first misconception that a smile only indicates pleasure and joy stands rebutted. A smile can be a joyful smile as well as a sarcastic smile

To smile is natural and even a baby starts smiling few weeks after birth. A smile may be real, fake or contrived or made up smile. Both joyful and a smile indicating derision are natural smiles. It is also said that the shortest distance between two people is a smile.

Studies have shown that if a smile follows a feeling of  joy not only are the lip corners are pulled up, but the muscles around the eyes are contracted, while non-enjoyment smiles involve just the smiling lips. It has been observed in case of a fake smile that the left side is more prominent and while fake smiles pull back only the mouth, real smiles pull back both the mouth and eyes.

A smile puts others at ease, create a favorable impression and exhibit confidence. One special quality of a smile is that it is returned immediately, strangely even if the smile is not genuine.

There are many benefit of smiling ranging from reflecting positivity, relieving tension and stress, enlivening environment, boosting immune system and lowering blood pressure. A smiling face can also be a saving grace and help in coming out of awkward and difficult situations.

Smiling releases chemicals that result in generating happiness.

According to William Arthur Ward A warm smile is the universal language of kindness, while  according to Phyllis Diller  “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. Mother Teresa said; “Peace begins with a smile.”

Following are different types of smiles:

The Drop-Jaw Smile—In this type of smile left jaw is dropped to indicate laughing.

Cheesy smile – In this type of smile teeth are more prominently visible.

Twinkle smile – In this type eyes play an important role exuding joy and happiness in twinkling form.

Wry smile – This type is indicative of lack of knowing something and is mostly used in an answer.

The Sly Smile– This form shows conflicting emotions on either side of the face. It is a contrived smile evoking some form of sarcasm.

Diplomatic Smile—As the name indicates it’s a type perfected by diplomats to show pleasure and confidence even when discussing or debating very conflicting point of views. Although it is a form of contrived smile, it is an important armament in a diplomat’s repertoire.

The Tight-Lipped Smile— In this form of smile there is a hidden message that something is being concealed depicted through stretching of lips tight across the face to form a straight line and the teeth are not visible.

Gloomy Smile– A smile conceding failure, defeat or unhappiness.


Laughter is defined as the action of or noise produced by laughing, the experience or manifestation of mirth, amusement, scorn, or joy.

To laugh means:

1. To express certain emotions, especially mirth or delight, by a series of spontaneous, usually in-articulated sounds often accompanied by corresponding facial and bodily movements.

2. To show or feel amusement or good humor.


a. To feel or express derision or contempt; mock.

b. To feel a triumphant or exultant sense of well-being.

The most prominent feature of laughter is sound, facial and physical body movement as a reaction to something amusing, joyful, scornful or contemptuous.

Laughter is also called the best medicine due to it’s positive role on health and healing. It stimulates quick breathing and enhances oxygen content in blood facilitating its circulation and help in healing process. It is also known as heart’s internal jogging and according to one research one minute of laughter provides forty five minutes of relaxation. Laughter also stimulates endorphin content in the body that helps in reducing stress and facilitates healing.

According to Puzant “A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning, while a good cry is a wet wash.”

Mary H. Waldrip thinks: A laugh is a smile that bursts and Charlie Chaplin is of the view that A day without laughter is a day wasted.

Types Of laughter

Hearty laughter—-It is a  vigorous and enthusiastic laughter, unreserved in manner or behavior.

Belly laugh— It is a deep, loud and, uncontrolled laugh.

Guffaw—-  A loud and boisterous laugh.

Giggle—- Laugh lightly in a nervous, affected, or silly manner

Titter/ Snigger—– short, smothered and half-suppressed laugh;

Chuckle—-  Laugh quietly or inwardly or suppressed laugh.

Comparison Between  Smile and laughter

The process of both smile and laughter emanates mostly from something hilarious, humorous or funny. However, sometimes they follow a feeling or experience of something hateful and contemptuous.

  • Both smile and laughter are natural expressions, but may be contrived to suit specific situations and purpose of the undertaker.
  • Both smile and laughter are of positive value that promote relationship, trust, understanding and help live a productive life.
  • While a smile is a subdued way of expression, laughter on the other hand knows no bounds and is a boisterous way of expressing oneself.
  • Smile and laughter are not event or matter specific, and vary according to the nature of the person concerned. While one person may only smile on anything said or observed, the other may laugh. There is also a chance that some other may do neither.
  • Although a person may smile while alone as well as in presence of others, laughter is public specific and is a social phenomenon. However, in case of reading a joke both can occur.
  • A smile may accompany a feeling of sadness, but a laughter can never be associated with sadness, except when going mad.

Tasneem Hameed

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