humor

1 of 2

noun

hu·​mor ˈhyü-mər How to pronounce humor (audio)
ˈyü-
1
a
: 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 woman 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
2
a
: an often temporary state of mind imposed especially by circumstances
was in no humor to listen
b
: characteristic or habitual disposition or bent : temperament
of cheerful humor
c
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
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
3
a
: 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

humor

2 of 2

verb

humored; humoring ˈhyüm-riŋ How to pronounce humor (audio)
ˈyüm-,
ˈhyü-mə-,
ˈyü-

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
Phrases
out of humor
: out of sorts

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for humor

Noun

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

Verb

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

Example Sentences

Noun 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. Verb 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
And if encouraged the right way, Icard has seen social media as a good way to showcase talents and humor. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 16 Nov. 2022 Kjartansson uses very 21st-century modes of irony and humor, as well as repetition (his aesthetic calling card) and boredom, to draw our attention to this. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2022 Noah has historically veered away from political humor during his stand-up sets, and the new special is no different. Lacey Rose, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Nov. 2022 Ax’s dependable musicality and effortless technique brought grace and humor to Beethoven, with excellent support from Payare and the musicians. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Nov. 2022 And whereas the original largely plays it straight, this one offers humor along with the horror. Drew Mackie, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2022 After criticism about offensive humor within the ranks, including Facebook posts that made fun of dead migrants and lawmakers, Magnus has clamped down on social media activity. Hamed Aleazizstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2022 Part of Weeks’s allure was that her brilliance and humor were wrapped in a dark complexity. Jessica Bartlett, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 Broadway Rose Theatre Company presents a holiday musical revue created with Portland audiences in mind, featuring Christmas carols, holiday pop tunes, and some Rose City-centric humor. oregonlive, 11 Nov. 2022
Verb
Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 Coming on the heels of a price increase for customers who suddenly had to pay for two services instead of one, subscribers were in no mood to humor the whimsical name and lambasted it online. Mae Anderson, USA TODAY, 30 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Verb

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near humor

Cite this Entry

“Humor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humor. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

humor 1 of 2

noun

hu·​mor ˈhyü-mər How to pronounce humor (audio)
ˈyü-
1
: a changeable state of mind often influenced by circumstances
in a bad humor
2
: the amusing quality of things
the humor of a situation
3
: the power to see or tell about the amusing or comic side of things
4
: something that is humorous
humorless
-ləs
adjective
humorlessness noun

humor

2 of 2

verb

humored; humoring ˈhyüm-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce humor (audio)
ˈyüm-
: to go along with the wishes or mood of
humor a sick person

Medical Definition

humor

noun

hu·​mor
variants or chiefly British humour
1
a
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on humor

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