humor

noun
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

humor

verb
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

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

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

Though Ridgecrest has been rocked by two big earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks, the residents haven't lost their sense of humor. latimes.com, "Today: Harsh Reality on the Rio Grande," 8 July 2019 Ruth was a phenomenal wife, kind mother and friend who mentored and inspired many with her wisdom and great sense of humor. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/7," 7 July 2019 Fortunately, the actor doesn’t seem to be letting the inevitable shamers and haters get to her; in fact, she’s taken it upon herself to personally reply — with a sense of humor. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Shay Mitchell Responds to Instagram Users Shaming Her Pregnancy," 5 July 2019 O’Grady Peyton, as Gaspar, has an open, thoughtful, sympathetic face—immediately sympathetic—and a keen sense of humor. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, "A Short Film of Dreamy Imagery and Mysterious Language," 2 July 2019 Moments of humor peek through in the writing, but the overarching mood is one of angsty, fretful suspense. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "A Supernatural Spy Story Goes Dark in The Rook," 2 July 2019 Fuller remained in Northeast Ohio, speaks at various functions, and also has a good sense of humor. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, "Tickets remain for Rocky Colavito program; ex-Indians McDowell, Tiant, Fuller added," 2 July 2019 The Iranian official is a polished diplomat who speaks fluent English and frequently relies on a disarming sense of humor. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "U.S. Sanctions Threat Still Looms Over Iran’s Top Diplomat," 29 June 2019 No matter what happens in this lifetime, be happy, keep a sense of humor. Julia O'malley, Anchorage Daily News, "Panhandling, drinking and loitering are at a breaking point in Midtown Anchorage, businesses say," 26 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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, SI.com, "Long Live the Lean Years of the Interim Lakers," 16 Mar. 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

Noun

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

Verb

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

Dictionary Entries near humor

hummus

hum note

humongous

humor

humoral

humoresque

humorist

Statistics for humor

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for humor

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

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More Definitions for humor

humor

noun

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

humor

verb

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

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

humor

noun
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

humor

verb
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.

humor

noun
hu·​mor
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with humor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for humor

Spanish Central: Translation of humor

Nglish: Translation of humor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of humor for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about humor

Comments on humor

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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