[ hyoo-mer or, often, yoo- ]
/ ˈhyu mər or, often, ˈyu- /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: humor / humored / humoring / humorless on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to comply with the mood or desires of in order to soothe or make more content or agreeable: Children can sense when you’re just humoring them instead of taking them seriously.You've heard this a hundred times, but please humor me while I tell you again.
to adapt or accommodate oneself to.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Idioms about humor

    out of humor, displeased; dissatisfied; cross: The chef is feeling out of humor again and will have to be treated carefully.
Also especially British, humour .

Origin of humor

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English (h)umour, from Anglo-French, from Latin (h)ūmōr- (stem of (h)ūmor ) “moisture, fluid” (medical Latin: “body fluid”), equivalent to (h)ūm(ēre) “to be wet” (see humid) + -ōr- -or1

synonym study for humor

4. Humor, wit refer to an ability to perceive and express a sense of the clever or amusing. Humor consists principally in the recognition and expression of incongruities or peculiarities present in a situation or character. It is frequently used to illustrate some fundamental absurdity in human nature or conduct, and is generally thought of as more kindly than wit: a genial and mellow type of humor; his biting wit. Wit is a purely intellectual manifestation of cleverness and quickness of apprehension in discovering apparent analogies between things really unlike, and expressing them in brief, diverting, and often sharp observations or remarks. 12. Humor, gratify, indulge imply attempting to satisfy the wishes or whims of (oneself or others). To humor is to comply with a mood, fancy, or caprice, as in order to satisfy, soothe, or manage: to humor an invalid. To gratify is to please by satisfying the likings or desires: to gratify someone by praising him. Indulge suggests a yielding to wishes that perhaps should not be given in to: to indulge an unreasonable demand; to indulge an irresponsible son.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of humor?

Humor is the ability of something to cause amusement or laughter. Humor is also a person’s ability to find amusement or comedy in something. As a verb, humor means to comply with someone’s demands or opinions in order to soothe them. Humor has several other senses as a noun or a verb.
Humor refers to something’s or someone’s ability to make people laugh or be amused. Usually, this is done by involving things that are funny or absurd. For example, a cartoon’s humor may involve slapstick comedy or characters doing ridiculous things as part of a wacky scheme. The word humor may also refer to a specific attempt at being funny. If something successfully uses humor, it is considered to be humorous.

  • Real-life examples: Cartoons, jokes, pranks, standup comedy, and funny movies are all examples of things that attempt to use humor to entertain people.
  • Used in a sentence: We laughed when my dad accidentally opened the gift meant for the dog, but he failed to see the humor in the situation. 

Humor also refers to a person’s ability or willingness to find amusement or comedy in things. Often, this sense is used in the phrase sense of humor.

  • Real-life examples: A person who is full of humor laughs at almost anything and is easily amused. A person with no sense of humor seems to rarely laugh or smile. Someone who finds offensive or shameful things funny is said to have a bad or poor sense of humor.
  • Used in a sentence: My friend has no sense of humor and never laughs at any of my funny jokes. 

When you humor someone, you agree with what they are saying or go along with their demands so that they don’t get angry or become a problem. Usually, you don’t actually agree with the person you are humoring. You do it to make them go away or be less of a problem.

  • Used in a sentence: I know you think my ideas are really stupid, but just humor me for a second.

Where does humor come from?

The first records of humor come from the early 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Latin hūmor, meaning “moisture” or “body fluid.”

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to humor?

  • humorous (adjective)
  • humorful (adjective)
  • humorless (adjective)
  • outhumor (verb)
  • prehumor (noun, verb)
  • unhumored (adjective)
  • well-humored (adjective)

What are some synonyms for humor?

What are some words that share a root or word element with humor

What are some words that often get used in discussing humor?

How is humor used in real life?

Humor is a common word that refers to things that are funny or that make people laugh.

Try using humor!

Which of the following words would most likely be used to describe humor?

A. funny
B. sad
C. boring
D. scary

How to use humor in a sentence

Scientific definitions for humor

[ hyōōmər ]

See aqueous humor.
See vitreous humor.
One of the four fluids of the body-blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile-whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval medicine to determine general health and character.

Word History

Doctors in ancient times and in the Middle Ages thought the human body contained a mixture of four substances, called humors, that determined a person's health and character. The humors were fluids (humor means “fluid” in Latin), and they differed from each other in being either warm or cold and moist or dry. Each humor was also associated with one of the four elements, the basic substances that made up the universe in ancient schemes of thought. Blood was the warm, moist humor associated with the element fire, and phlegm was the cold, moist humor associated with water. Black bile was the cold, dry humor associated with the earth, and yellow bile was the warm, dry humor associated with the air. Illnesses were thought to be caused by an imbalance in the humors within the body, as were defects in personality, and some medical terminology in English still reflects these outmoded concepts. For example, too much black bile was thought to make a person gloomy, and nowadays symptoms of depression such as insomnia and lack of pleasure in enjoyable activities are described as melancholic symptoms, ultimately from the Greek word melancholia, “excess of black bile,” formed from melan-, “black,” and khole, “bile.” The old term for the cold, clammy humor, phlegm, lives on today as the word for abnormally large accumulations of mucus in the upper respiratory tract. Another early name of yellow bile in English, choler, is related to the name of the disease cholera, which in earlier times denoted stomach disorders thought to be due to an imbalance of yellow bile. Both words are ultimately from the Greek word chole, “bile.”
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for humor


An archaic term for any fluid substance in the body, such as blood, lymph, or bile.

notes for humor

Physicians in the Middle Ages believed that four principal humors — blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile — controlled body functions and that a person's temperament resulted from the humor that was most prevalent in the body. Sanguine people were controlled by blood, phlegmatic people by phlegm, choleric people by yellow bile (also known as “choler”), and melancholic people by black bile (also known as “melancholy”).
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with humor


see out of sorts (humor).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.