I know that 笑/草/w are just different ways to type out "haha" or "LOL", but is there a nuance between using which one? In English, "haha" is more casual and laid-back while "LOL" is a more energetic and chaotic laugh. What's the nuance for the Japanese slang?


2 Answers 2


笑 is the oldest. 笑 was used before the advent of the Internet.

Even today, this is probably the most common way for interviews to appear in magazines and other publications as Jimmy commented.

Basically, the Internet became popular in Japan in around 1995(This is after the release of windows95).

There are a lot of typing in 笑. So, I don't know who started it, but they took the first letter of "wara" and started to use "w".

The number of "w" is a good way to express how funny it is.

  • いいねw
  • おもしろいwww

"w" was initially used only by people who were interested in the Internet and had a small presence (mainly in chat rooms)

By the way, I was a college student studying computer science when "w" started being used. It was a special feeling to use "w" to chat and talk to my friends. I feel like I'm on the cutting edge of a tool LOL(訳:最先端のツールを使いこなしている気分でしたwww). It's a little after 2000.

Over time, the expression "草生える(growing grass)" started to be used because the appearance of the "www" looks like grass.

By the way, I see "草" a lot these days, but I'm not a young man anymore, so I don't know how to use it well.

Just don't forget the purpose: the arrival of "w" is to reduce the number of types. In "草(kusa)", the number of types has increased again! So I think "w" is still the most popular choice for chatting.

I don't think "草" is a substitute for "w" in all cases.

I used to type "www" instead of "面白いね!" when someone said something funny. but now I see that sometimes they return "草" instead of "www".

Often I see "草" used in a critical sense rather than a funny sense.

  • ミスをしたのに開き直るのは草(批判的な"おかしい"の意味)

If you do a search on "開き直ってて草", you'll find examples of it being used.

Incidentally, the one that was in similar usage before "草" came along is "ワロタ". (In most cases, half-width characters are used.)

  • ミスをしたのに開き直るのはワロタ(批判的な"おかしい"の意味)

"ワロタ" was also used when it was really funny, just like "草".

In addition to "ワロタ", "ワロス" was also used.

There are tons of these types of variations.

It's in Japanese, but if you're interested in more, you might find the following resources interesting.

  • "笑 was used until the advent of the Internet." means that 笑 is not used now (or any time after the Internet). That's not what you meant, right?
    – Leebo
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 10:47
  • @Leebo I still see 笑, but less often. My English isn't very good. Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 10:51
  • "笑 was used before the advent of the Internet." is probably best then.
    – Leebo
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 10:52
  • 1
    I don't know if it was the origin, but I remember first seeing "w" in Ultima Online. Not only was it shorthand, it was out of necessity since UO didn't support Japanese at the time. That was around 1997-98, if I remember correctly.
    – Jimmy
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 17:44
  • 1
    Also, it maybe good to mention (笑) has always been and is still used in media, especially in interviews. That is one thing you cannot exchange for "w" or 草.
    – Jimmy
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 17:49

笑{わら}い means "laughter" and 笑{え}み means "smile". When used like this specifically with brackets (笑) it's short for laughing on social media, similar to LOL, in that refers to the meaning of laughing not the sound.

Since 笑{わら}い is reads as "Warai" it's become casual to write "www" for laughter. This looks like grass so (草) using 草{くさ} can be used in place of (笑). Variations like "field" (大草原{だいそうげん}) are also used. It's a fun internet culture, wordplay is popular in Japanese humour since there are many homophones.

For the sound there are many 擬声語{ぎせいご} Japanese onomatopeia くすくす or ハハハ. Using these is common in manga or variety shows.

I wouldn't read much into the difference in meaning. That depends on culture and the individual. In my opinion, there is not much difference in emphasis, meaning, or usage in English either. This is subjective and out-of-scope of StackExchange but hopefully this vocabulary and kanji helps to understand how it's used in Japanese.

  • 1
    – chocolate
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 7:47
  • @Chocolate typing mistake corrected.
    – Tom Kelly
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 7:50

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