Okay, this has come up on numerous occasions while working on my novel series. Say you have a mature/respected character, like a high priestess, and she gives a small laugh. I’ve been wracking my brains as to what to call it. It’s not laughy enough to be called a full laugh. It’s a restrained laugh. (and don’t tell me to write Ondelle gave a restrained laugh. That’s lame; I want a verb. Ondelle _______ed.)
It’s not a giggle, she’s not a little girl.
It’s not a chuckle, she’s not a fat creepy uncle.
It’s not a titter, that’s too demeaning.
It’s not a snicker or a snigger.
And yes, I’ve gone through a thesaurus.
(My publisher Tod said, “How about a guffaw!” and I nearly lost my coffee through my nose. High Priestess Ondelle guffawed!)