hu·​mor | \ ˈhyü-mər How to pronounce humor (audio) , 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 How to pronounce humoring (audio) , 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

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are plenty of muggings to the camera, a hyperbolic sense of wonder at mentions of the original film and a sly sense of humor that gives an edge to the aggressively bright and sunny tone. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: 'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' is Disney+ nostalgia done right," 12 Nov. 2019 However his spirit, humor and love of life prevailed and served as inspiration for all who knew him., "Welles T. Brandriff," 10 Nov. 2019 Penn State, 24-14 PURDUE at NORTHWESTERN, 11 a.m. BTN Despite an anemic offensive without a touchdown since Oct. 6, Pat Fitzgerald maintained a sense of humor after last week’s 34-3 loss to Indiana. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Pioneer Press Big Ten football picks: Week 11," 8 Nov. 2019 As narrator and moderator, Carll displayed a gift for injecting a little humor into the discussion of material that was often dark. Lawrence Specker |, al, "The weight and the joy: Allison Moorer brings ‘Blood’ tour to Mobile," 8 Nov. 2019 Baumbach navigates the cruel arguments, the flashes of sympathy, and the legalese of divorce with realism and deft humor. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Marriage Story Examines the Details of Love and Loss," 8 Nov. 2019 But this is Almodovar, and plenty moments of absurd humor and offbeat quirks add levity. Laura Demarco, cleveland, "Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas reunite in moving ‘Pain and Glory,’ an ode to the movies (review)," 6 Nov. 2019 That’s not to limit her appeal, however, as Johnson’s mainstream, occasionally catchphrase-laden humor was selling out clubs years before her long list of theater dates. John Wenzel, The Know, "Kathleen Madigan, Eric Andre and more Denver comedy you should see in November," 3 Nov. 2019 By all accounts, Dr. Provine embodied the figure of a laughter researcher: a bearded, congenial, wisecracking presence whose own humor could straighten the spine at its wicked best., "Dr. Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, died at 76 on Oct. 17 in a hospital in Baltimore. His wife, Helen Weems, said the cause was complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.," 30 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The world watched as the Puerto Rican people proved some of the most good-humored yet determined protestors in recent history. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Puerto Rico’s Loud and Fervent Days of Protest," 26 July 2019 Though hundreds of fans found the post to be entertaining, Delilah Belle, on the other hand, was not humored in the slightest. Joelle Goldstein,, "Lisa Rinna Compares Her Sex Life to the Movie Fight Club Grossing Out Daughter Delilah Belle Hamlin," 19 June 2019 That wasn't the case for my more cautious 14-year-old, who kindly braved the Boomerang mostly to humor her sister. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Illinois' biggest water park, Raging Waves, is a less hectic alternative to the Dells," 19 July 2019 Jane denies Mary Louise’s request for a paternity test, but does humor her with a coffee date. Morgan Baila,, "Big Little Lies Episode 3 Recap: It's The End Of The World As They Know It," 14 June 2019 More to the point, does your boss simply humor her snitching — or encourage it? Karla L. Miller, The Seattle Times, "How to deal with the office tattletale," 12 Dec. 2018 With that in mind, Mr. M’seddi, a kinetic and good-humored 27-year-old, conquered one of France’s holy bastions. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, "Sons of Immigrants Prop Up a Symbol of ‘Frenchness’: The Baguette," 14 May 2018 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

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.

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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

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

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Learn More about humor

Time Traveler for humor

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for humor

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Humor.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for humor


How to pronounce humor (audio)

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 How to pronounce humor (audio) , 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 How to pronounce humour (audio) , ˈyü-​ How to pronounce humour (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on humor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for humor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with humor

Spanish Central: Translation of humor

Nglish: Translation of humor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of humor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about humor

Comments on humor

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strength of mind

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