What Does Burst Out Laughing Mean?

To Burst Out Laughing Meaning

Definition: To start laughing loudly and suddenly.

Origin of Burst Out Laughing

The exact origin of this expression is unclear, but it has existed since at least the 1700s. The word burst comes from before the year 1000.

The phrasal verb burst out is used in other expressions to mean start making sounds suddenly. One other example is burst out in song. People often use the phrasal verb burst out when someone says or shouts something suddenly. Another variant of this idiom is bust out laughing.

Examples of Burst Out Laughing

meaning of bursts out laughingA man tells his friend about an embarrassing situation he experienced earlier in the day.

Kira: Hey. How’s it going?

Dan: Ugh. It’s been a terrible day.

Kira: Why? What happened?

Dan: Well, you remember how I just started a new job, right?

Kira: Yeah.

Dan: My new boss asked me to finish a project in two weeks. Two days after that, he asked me if I was finished.

Kira: Uh oh. What did you say?

Dan: I burst out laughing because I thought he was joking.

Kira: Was he joking?

Dan: No. As it turns out, he meant to tell me to finish in two days. When I started laughing, he thought I was being disrespectful and fired me.

bursted out laughing definitionThe following example involves two women talking about their family.

Gertrude: I’m a little worried about my son.

Ruby: Why? What’s going on with him?

Gertrude: Well, sometimes he seems to have strange reactions.

Ruby: What do you mean?

Gertrude: For example, we were at a funeral yesterday, and he burst out laughing! Ruby: Oh, I see.

Gertrude: Isn’t that odd? If he had burst into tears, I would have understood. But who laughs at a funeral?

Ruby: Some people deal with grief differently. Some people laugh in order not to cry.

More Examples

This newspaper uses the expression to describe truck drivers’ reactions. They think it is funny when people suggest they are able to sleep while working.

  • But trucking professionals aren’t so sure. For reasons ranging from highway speeds to varying cargo requirements, trucking experts literally burst out laughing when asked about the notion of a driver sleeping while his truck barrels across a lonely state.  –USA Today

In this example, one football player laughed at another who got hit in the mouth on video.

When Cleveland watched the play on video on Monday, he nearly burst out laughing.

“He got smacked in the mouth,” Cleveland said. –Houston Chronicle


The phrase burst out laughing means to laugh or guffaw unexpectedly.