early 13c., imitative of the noise of a hen (see cachinnation); perhaps partly based on Middle Dutch kake "jaw," with frequentative suffix -el (3). As "to laugh," 1712. Related: Cackled; cackling.
1670s, "sound made by a hen or goose," from cackle (v.). From 1856 as "a short laugh." Cackleberries, slang for "eggs" is first recorded 1880.