The phrase have the last laugh is an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the idiom have the last laugh, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
To have the last laugh means to ultimately triumph, to achieve vindication. The implication is that one has been thought to be incompetent or on the wrong track, and has ultimately shown that his actions were correct. Related phrases are has the last laugh, had the last laugh, having the last laugh. The idiom have the last laugh is derived from a proverb: He who laughs last, last best (or loudest). A proverb is a short, common phrase or saying that imparts a particular wisdom. This proverb may be found in a play known as The Christmas Prince, performed at Oxford College in 1608:
“Laugh on laugh on my freind / Hee laugheth best that laugheth to the end.”
A Pennsylvania high school senior scored the ultimate prom date — and perhaps helped Steelers fans have the last laugh on Antonio Brown, too. (The Washington Post)
It will be more than six months before we know which of Australia and England have the last laugh. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
But, in private, she and husband Philip will have the last laugh. (The Courier)
The two got into an arm wrestling match that Strowman would win, but Lashley had the last laugh as he hit Strowman with his own finisher. (Newsweek Magazine)