I always see 哈哈, 呵呵, 嘻嘻, and 嘿嘿 in WeChat, QQ, etc, but I don't really understand the subtle differences between them and when to use them appropriately, especially 呵呵. I use 呵呵 myself now, but I'm not sure I'm using it correctly.

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    – xdcsy
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 12:30

10 Answers 10


check the table. This picture says everything. enter image description here

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    IMO, this is the best answer! I think these words literally captures the sound of different kinds of laughter. I wouldn't be surprised if their equivalents exist in other languages. Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 13:55
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    @ThomasHsieh Absolutely, these words called 拟声词,simulate sounds, 喵(mew),汪汪(dog)
    – sfy
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 14:20
  • 拟声词 = onomatopoeia
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 14:40

I'm taking my answer primarily from this 百度知道 post.


Hehe is the most general laugh, indicating perhaps just a smile. Its meaning is the most vague and in some situations can imply an embarrassed, self mocking, or even sarcastic laugh.

(Update: note the added caution that @shellbye gives in his answer about the meaning of this one. I suggest you keep observing its usage before using it too freely yourself.)


Haha has the clearest meaning. It's a great big happy laugh.


Xixi is mostly (but not exclusively) used by females and conveys a sense of mischievousness and lightheartedness. In certain situations it can even have an air of 撒娇. Xixi is perhaps something like "hee hee" in English. (I spell it "hee hee" and not "he he" so as not to confuse it with 呵呵.)


Heihei is a mischievous or cunning laugh and is used more by males. It can also be an honest laugh, though, too.

Other links

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    When I see a top rated answer quotes from zhidao.baidu.com, I'd say hehe. See the Kim Jong-un picture and panda bear picture in the other answer. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 3:29

"呵呵" means something different in online chat.

At first, "呵呵" is as simple as "哈哈",“嘿嘿” when I even used it a lot in online chat.

Then, "呵呵" become the best choice when you do not know how to reply to someone's message. So this is where things goes wrong about "呵呵". When someone keep talking to you, and you reply nothing meaningful but "呵呵", sooner or later, he or she become boring about the words.

At last, a picture changed everything. It show below:

enter image description here

Ever since the picture got famous on Internet, people stop using it as its usual meaning but means something different. Sometime it's a joke, sometime it is offensive.

By the way, "呵呵" was the top 1 of of "the most hurting words in online chat of 2014". Full list shows below:









Since you mentioned Wechat and QQ in the question, I'd say in a normal chat, there is no significant difference among 哈哈, 嘻嘻 and 嘿嘿. Normally when you chat online, your partner express his/her happiness via these words. Suragch gave a nice explanation of these words.

But 呵呵 is something different. I mean there are some implicit meanings recently. When you chat with Chinese young people, you may want to know the implicit meaning. 呵呵 = Well...OK/WTF. It really depends.

For example, your close friend showed off something to you but you think it makes no sense or is stupid. Here you can reply 呵呵。By replying 呵呵, your friend understands your thought and it won't cause any bad effect to your friendship.

Here is a simple conversation for you to understand:

A: 知道吗,我用手纸做了一个金字塔。

B: 呵呵。


They all means laugh, however, '呵呵' has changed this days, especially on the internet, when people say '呵呵', it usually means something is stupid, disgusting or stubborn. But it's not always like this, still depends on the context.


How about some emoji?

哈哈 🤣

呵呵 🙂

嘻嘻 😁

嘿嘿 😏


all of those are onomatopoeias

actually the meanings vary a lot if you speak a different dialect.

for example 嘻嘻 is /xixi/ in mandarin, /hihi/ in Minnan, /heihei/ in Cantonese.

if you are used to 嘻嘻 in mandarin and you read a comic book from hongkong, you'll wonder why those handsome masculine protagonists /xixi/ like a girl who falls in love the first time while actually the author means a cheeky /heihei/.

This is only one example, but if you look at the news papers or daily languages in regions of different dialects, the way they use onomatopoeias are fundamentally different.


All four of them can be used for laughs without connotations. But in certain cases these words can convey rich and subtle meanings.

哈哈 general, delighted laugh

呵呵 ironic, cynical sneer

嘻嘻 smug, provocative smile

嘿嘿 silly, sheepish grin


The 4 are onomatopoeia words on the sliding scale of distance between the upper and lower teeth from haha(widest open mouth, to hehe(slightly smaller mouth opening), to hei hei (narrow mouth opening), xixi or heehee (narrowest mouth opening). Wider mouth opening corresponds to a hearty laugh, the narrower the mouth opening, the more reserved is the attitude, with hei hei is bit cunning and heehee even more so or a bit feminine as ladies act more reserved


哈哈,is used when we are very happy.呵呵,is used when we feel embarrassed or don't want to talk anymore. 嘻嘻,when you smile archly. 嘿嘿, when you feel shy. 哇哈哈哈,when you feel very happy.

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    Not sure why you posted two answers, can you merge them please?
    – Mou某
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 11:37
  • @user3306356 Aren't you, the mod, able to do it?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 14:46
  • @Blaszard Better to get people to know what to do and how to do it, without the mods getting involved all the time.
    – Mou某
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 16:18
  • @user3306356 Sorry, I'm new user. How could i merge them together?
    – Bei Jiang
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 2:49

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