hu·mor | \ ˈhyü-mər , ˈyü- \

Definition of humor 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a normal functioning bodily semifluid or fluid (such as the blood or lymph)

b physiology : a secretion (such as a hormone) that is an excitant of activity

2a in medieval physiology : a fluid or juice of an animal or plant specifically : one of the four fluids entering into the constitution of the body and determining by their relative proportions a person's health and temperament

b : characteristic or habitual disposition or bent : temperament of cheerful humor

c : an often temporary state of mind imposed especially by circumstances was in no humor to listen

d : a sudden, unpredictable, or unreasoning inclination : whim … conceived the humor of impeaching casual passers-by … and wreaking vengeance on them. —Charles Dickens the uncertain humors of nature

3a : that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous : a funny or amusing quality Try to appreciate the humor of the situation.

b : the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous : the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny a guy with a great sense of humor

c : something that is or is designed to be comical or amusing The book is a collection of American humor. not a fan of the comedian's brand of humor

out of humor

: out of sorts


humored; humoring\ˈhyüm-riŋ, ˈyüm-, ˈhyü-mə-, ˈyü- \

Definition of humor (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to soothe or content (someone) by indulgence : to comply with the temperament or inclinations of The only way to get along with him is to humor him. I know you don't agree, but just humor me.

2 : to adapt oneself to yielding to, and humoring the motion of the limbs and twigs —William Bartram

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for humor


wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee mean a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement. wit suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal felicity or ingenuity and swift perception especially of the incongruous. a playful wit humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness. a sense of humor irony applies to a manner of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed. the irony of the title sarcasm applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that is intended to cut or wound. given to heartless sarcasm satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. a satire on the Congress repartee implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or wittily. a dinner guest noted for repartee


indulge, pamper, humor, spoil, baby, mollycoddle mean to show undue favor to a person's desires and feelings. indulge implies excessive compliance and weakness in gratifying another's or one's own desires. indulged myself with food at the slightest excuse pamper implies inordinate gratification of desire for luxury and comfort with consequent enervating effect. pampered by the amenities of modern living humor stresses a yielding to a person's moods or whims. humored him by letting him tell the story spoil stresses the injurious effects on character by indulging or pampering. foolish parents spoil their children baby suggests excessive care, attention, or solicitude. babying students by grading too easily mollycoddle suggests an excessive degree of care and attention to another's health or welfare. refused to mollycoddle her malingering son

Did You Know?

In the Middle Ages it was believed that a person’s health and disposition were the result of a balance of four fluids in the body. These fluids were called humors, from the Latin word humor, meaning “moisture.” The fluids were blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. If a person had a cheerful disposition, it was said to be a result of an excess of blood. A sluggish disposition was the result of an excess of phlegm. A hot-tempered disposition was said to be caused by an excess of yellow bile, and the disposition of a gloomy person was the result of an excess of black bile. In time, humor came to be used as a general term for “disposition or temperament.” From this developed the sense of “a changeable state of mind” or “mood.” More recently humor has come to refer to something that is funny.

Examples of humor in a Sentence


He didn't appreciate the humor of the situation. Someday, you'll see the humor in this. Everyone likes the gentle humor of his stories of family life. She doesn't care for ethnic humor. The book is a collection of American humor. His humor is one of his most attractive qualities.


The only way to get along with him is to humor him. humored her grandfather by listening to his war stories for the hundredth time
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But her script is too diffuse—and too in love with the poetry of the Ukrainian women's black humor—to develop that theme with any force or clarity. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "The new Holodomor drama Sickle isn't sharp enough to draw much blood," 12 July 2018 But when marginalized comedians take the stage, far too often, their vehicle for being heard runs on self-deprecating humor. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why Hannah Gadsby’s searing comedy special Nanette has upended comedy for good," 5 July 2018 But baseball has a cruel sense of humor, and embarrassing moments strike even the best baseball players. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Baseball hits Tim Tebow in the head after a deflection off the 'Maine Monster'," 3 July 2018 The memes themselves were an attempt at ironic humor, since no one believes a girl as nice and innocent as Brown would actually be filled with hate, but at the end of the day, the initial intent doesn't matter. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Millie Bobby Brown's Anti-Bullying Speech Isn't The Whole Story," 19 June 2018 David and Julie shared a fondness for the same novels, a sense of humor, an ease with one another. Sylvia Brownrigg, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘My Ex-Life,’ by Stephen McCauley," 14 June 2018 The casting does help elevate the material, and there's some dark humor in the character interactions. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Hotel Artemis' isn't worth checking out, despite its guest list," 8 June 2018 Still, there is humor of the prickly and withering variety, taking aim at the aging emperor Logan Roy (Brian Cox)—who is weakened by a stroke, sending all his heirs scrambling for power. Richard Lawson, HWD, "HBO’s Rich-Family-in-Peril Drama Succession Has a Troubling Allure," 1 June 2018 Adam Grant, a professor of psychology and management at Wharton, was struck by Kayvon Asemani’s self-deprecating humor. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "As he graduates from Wharton, this former Ellicott City resident reflects on overcoming tragedy," 10 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sam humors him, reluctantly plinking out a tune on her keyboard. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "'Hearts Beat Loud' with Nick Offerman is an absolute charm," 14 June 2018 Over his time of public service, the elder Bush has given numerous speeches and interviews, able to motivate and humor various crowds. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Revisit some of George H.W. Bush's best quotes on his 94th birthday," 12 June 2018 One diplomat compared it to humoring an angry relative who controlled a family vacation estate, and periodically threatened to burn it down. Mark Landler, David E. Sanger And Gardiner Harris, New York Times, "Rewrite Iran Deal? Europeans Offer a Different Solution: A New Chapter," 26 Feb. 2018 What else can humor do besides add levity to certain dark subjects? Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "“I Try Not to Have a Schedule”: Talking Writing with William Vollmann," 20 Apr. 2018 Despite this, Mattis seems to be humoring the president’s demands and coming up with some options to fund the border wall through the military. Tara Golshan, Vox, "No, Donald Trump can’t just use Pentagon money for his border wall," 30 Mar. 2018 The younger Lakers have been good about humoring him, at least until Julius Randle drew a line in the sand during the Warriors game. Andrew Sharp,, "Long Live the Lean Years of the Interim Lakers," 16 Mar. 2018 Meanwhile, Gigi's expression suggests she's humored by Zayn's attempt to kiss her. Elizabeth Narins, Cosmopolitan, "Were Gigi and Zayn Doomed All Along? A Body Language Expert Answers," 14 Mar. 2018 Late Tuesday night, Chrissy Teigen tweeted a question many of us have humored before. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "Chrissy Teigen (and Everyone Else) Wants to Know if Acid Reflux Can Kill You," 21 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'humor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of humor


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for humor


Middle English humour, from Anglo-French umor, umour, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin humor, from Latin humor, umor moisture; akin to Old Norse vǫkr damp, Latin humēre to be moist, and perhaps to Greek hygros wet


see humor entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about humor

Dictionary Entries near humor


hum note






Phrases Related to humor

good humor

sense of humor

Statistics for humor

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for humor

The first known use of humor was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for humor



English Language Learners Definition of humor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a funny or amusing quality

: jokes, funny stories, etc., of a particular kind

: the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny



English Language Learners Definition of humor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to try to please or satisfy (someone) by doing what is wanted


hu·mor | \ ˈhyü-mər , ˈyü- \

Kids Definition of humor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the amusing quality of something She couldn't see the humor of the situation.

2 : the ability to see or tell the amusing quality of things

3 : state of mind : mood … they were not in a very good humor because they had been arguing … —Robert McClosky, Homer Price

Other words from humor

humorless \-ləs \ adjective


humored; humoring

Kids Definition of humor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give in to the wishes of I humored her and listened to her ridiculous idea.


variants: or chiefly British humour \ˈhyü-mər, ˈyü- \

Medical Definition of humor 

1a : a normal functioning bodily semifluid or fluid (as the blood or lymph)

b : a secretion (as a hormone) that is an excitant of activity

2 in ancient and medieval physiology : a fluid or juice of an animal or plant specifically : one of the four fluids that were believed to enter into the constitution of the body and to determine by their relative proportions a person's health and temperament — see black bile, blood sense 3, phlegm sense 1, yellow bile

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on humor

What made you want to look up humor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!