1. The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness: could not see the humor of the situation.
2. That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement: a writer skilled at crafting humor.
3. The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd: "Man's sense of humor seems to be in inverse proportion to the gravity of his profession" (Mary Roberts Rinehart).
4. One of the four fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile, whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval physiology to determine a person's disposition and general health.
a. A body fluid, such as blood, lymph, or bile.
b. Aqueous humor.
c. Vitreous humor.
6. A person's characteristic disposition or temperament: a boy of sullen humor.
7. An often temporary state of mind; a mood: I'm in no humor to argue.
a. A sudden, unanticipated inclination; a whim.
b. Capricious or peculiar behavior.
tr.v. hu·mored, hu·mor·ing, hu·morsIdiom:
1. To comply with the wishes or ideas of (another) in order to keep that person satisfied or unaware of criticism; indulge: "When she was convinced a man was giving her the eye, we humored her and agreed" (Jhumpa Lahiri).
2. To adapt or accommodate oneself to: humored his uncle's peculiarities. See Synonyms at pamper.
out of humor
In a bad mood; irritable.
[Middle English, fluid, from Old French umor, from Latin ūmor, hūmor.]
Word History: Physicians in ancient and medieval times thought that the human body contained a mixture of four fluids and that a person's health and temperament depended upon the relative proportions of these fluids within the body. In Middle English, these fluids were called humours, ultimately from the Latin word hūmor, "fluid." (Latin hūmor, also found in the variant form ūmor, contains the same root found in the Latin adjective hūmidus, "moist," whence English humid.) Each of the four humors, namely blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, or sanguis, phlegma, melancholia, and choler in Latin, were defined as warm or cold and moist or dry and associated with one of the four elements, and a superfluity of any one humor was thought to produce a characteristic disposition. Blood, the warm, moist humor associated with the element fire, caused a ruddy complexion and a sanguine disposition, marked by courage, hope, and a readiness to fall in love. Phlegm, the cold, moist humor associated with water, made one phlegmatic, or calm, sluggish, and unemotional. Black bile, the cold, dry humor associated with earth, caused depression, or melancholy. Yellow bile, the warm, dry humor associated with the air, made one choleric, or easily angered. By the late 1500s, the word humour had become synonymous with temperament and was used especially to refer to one's temperament when dominated by one of the four humors. As an extension of this sense, humour came to indicate changing moods or states of mind, particularly whimsical and capricious fancies that, when revealed in action, provide amusement to others. In the 1600s, humour (now spelled humor in the United States) at last came to mean the quality that makes something amusing or laughable, as well as the ability to amuse others and to appreciate those things that are amusing—that is, a sense of humor.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.