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"If I coveted nowe to avenge the injuries that you have done me, I myght laughe in my slyve." [John Daus, "Sleidanes Commentaries," 1560]The noun is first attested 1680s, from the verb. Meaning "a cause of laughter" is from 1895; ironic use (e.g. that's a laugh) attested from 1930. Nitrous oxide has been called laughing gas since 1842 (for its exhilarating effects). Laugh track "canned laughter on a TV program" is from 1966.