This is a fun primer from Sarah Larson at The New Yorker on the difference between using “hahaha” and “hehehe” in your texts (or other online communication). Many people have their own interpretations. What’s yours?
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 largely agree with this assessment:
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.
I use “haha,” “hahaha,” “hehe,” and “heh.” To me, “hehe” is something that is funny but isn’t something at which I didn’t laugh out loud. However, “haha” and “hahaha” is something that brought a smile or laughter out of me.
A notable omission in the article? Those who write “ahaha” and its many variations.