[ hyoo-mer or, often, yoo- ]
See synonyms for: humorhumoredhumoringhumorless on

  1. a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement: the humor of a situation.

  2. the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical: He is completely without humor.

  1. an instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing; something humorous: The humor in his joke eluded the audience.

  2. the faculty of expressing the amusing or comical: The author's humor came across better in the book than in the movie.

  3. comical writing or talk in general; comical books, skits, plays, etc.

  4. humors, peculiar features; oddities; quirks: humors of life.

  5. mental disposition or temperament.

  6. a temporary mood or frame of mind: The boss is in a bad humor today.

  7. a capricious or freakish inclination; whim or caprice; odd trait.

  8. (in medieval physiology) one of the four elemental fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, regarded as determining, by their relative proportions, a person's physical and mental constitution.

  9. any animal or plant fluid, whether natural or morbid, as the blood or lymph.

verb (used with object)
  1. 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.

  2. to adapt or accommodate oneself to.

Idioms about humor

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

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
  • Also especially British, humour .

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.

Other words for humor

Opposites for humor

Other words from humor

  • hu·mor·ful, adjective
  • hu·mor·less, adjective
  • hu·mor·less·ly, adverb
  • hu·mor·less·ness, noun
  • out·hu·mor, verb (used with object)
  • pre·hu·mor, noun, verb (used with object)
  • un·hu·mored, adjective
  • well-hu·mored, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use humor in a sentence

Scientific definitions for humor


[ hyōōmər ]

  1. 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.