1

humor

noun hu·mor \ ˈhyü-mər , ˈyü- \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of humor

1 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
2 a 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
3 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 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

Examples of humor in a Sentence

  1. He didn't appreciate the humor of the situation.

  2. Someday, you'll see the humor in this.

  3. Everyone likes the gentle humor of his stories of family life.

  4. She doesn't care for ethnic humor.

  5. The book is a collection of American humor.

  6. His humor is one of his most attractive qualities.

Recent Examples of humor from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

humor

verb

Definition of humor

humored; humoring play \ˈhyüm-riŋ, 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

Examples of humor in a Sentence

  1. The only way to get along with him is to humor him.

  2. humored her grandfather by listening to his war stories for the hundredth time

Recent Examples of humor from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of humor

see 1humor

Synonym Discussion of humor

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


HUMOR Defined for English Language Learners

humor

noun

Definition of humor for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of humor for English Language Learners

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


HUMOR Defined for Kids

1

humor

noun hu·mor \ ˈhyü-mər , ˈyü- \

Definition of humor for Students

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

humorless

\-ləs\ adjective

2

humor

verb

Definition of humor for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

humor

noun hu·mor
variants: or chiefly British humour play \ˈhyü-mər, ˈyü-\

medical Definition of humor

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 3, phlegm 1, yellow bile


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