Rire comme une baleine
Perhaps you have heard of La Vache Qui Rit - The Laughing Cow? Well, move over Laughing Cow! Here comes the big league and it does not get much bigger than a whale! The expression Rire comme une baleine translates to laughing like a whale, and describes unbridled laughter at its side-splitting best. No stifled giggle or semi chuckle here. When you laugh like a whale, you you are laughing your head off!
This popular expression may be used freely in any type of context where laughter is loud and somewhat uncontrolled. You will also often hear it used with synonyms of rire, such as rigoler comme une baleine, or the very common, informal verb se marrer comme une baleine.
Note that the word baleine agrees with the number: you will say je ris comme une baleine if you are roaring with laughter by yourself, but nous rions comme des baleines if more people join the fun.
It is one of those idioms which origin is fuzzy. But when you picture a feeding whale's gaping mouth, it is easy to imagine where the inspiration may have come from. From a human perspective, if you show that much teeth, you must be laughing really hard. Then there is the animal's size: a large animal would produce a big laugh. Nitpickers will point out that there is no scientific evidence that whales ever laugh. Granted, but there is no evidence that they don't either.
Quand elle m'a raconté son histoire, j'ai ri comme une baleine.
When she told me her story, I laughed very hard.
Les enfants ont adoré ce film comique: ils ont rigolé comme des baleines du début à la fin.
The kids loved that comedy: they laughed like crazy from beginning to end.
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