Definition of humour in English:


(US humor)


  • 1The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.

    ‘his tales are full of humour’
    • ‘Of all the recent attempts to tread this fine line between quality and humor, he does it better than almost anyone.’
    • ‘Gone were the days of situational comedy when humour formed an integral part of the plot of the movie.’
    • ‘Fisher himself is well equipped with sharp observational humour and precision comic timing.’
    • ‘He doesn't need notes because he knows what he's talking about, and he can invest his speech with humor on the spot.’
    • ‘‘We put out a variety of quality humor on a consistent basis,’ he said.’
    • ‘We both have a good sense of humour and we try to find humour in everything so I guess that comes out in the music.’
    • ‘If a speaker does use humor in a speech, make certain the story, anecdote or joke is surefire funny with all listeners.’
    • ‘One of her enduring contributions may be to bring humor to this tight-lipped literature.’
    • ‘What made all this watchable, indeed endearing, was a constant thread of humour and the quality of the writing and acting.’
    • ‘They are full of raw Taiwanese humor and literary surprises.’
    • ‘The result is a record with remarkable perspective, full of honesty, humor and beauty.’
    • ‘I assume you are referring to our inclusion of humor and attempted humor in our public speeches.’
    • ‘They have the characteristics of honesty and humour and they speak to audiences at their level, not from on high.’
    • ‘A jovial person, his speeches are peppered with humour.’
    • ‘More recently, there has been interest in comics, humour, and folktales.’
    • ‘Full of its characteristic humour and human drama, the series takes the gang from Middlesbrough to Arizona.’
    • ‘Those movies were exciting, full of humour, suspense and great characters - everything this film lacks.’
    • ‘They remain a benchmark of quality for British humour.’
    • ‘His was a speech laced with much humour and more than a little self-deprecation.’
    • ‘If a comic can find humour in broken limbs, then why not in mental illness, too?’
    comical aspect, comic side, funny side, comedy, funniness, hilarity, jocularity
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    1. 1.1The ability to express humour or amuse other people.
      ‘their inimitable brand of humour’
      • ‘We became involved the usual way: working closely together in the same department, appreciating each other's humor and views of life.’
      • ‘Yet he still managed to make his special brand of humor understood.’
      • ‘And for one more thing: I realised people who appreciate my kind of humour, are those who are smart.’
      • ‘No, my greatest ability is my spontaneous humour.’
      • ‘Sense of humour is definitely what we need in this particular subject matter, and especially looking at that text.’
      • ‘I admire both her humour and her ability to make theatre accessible.’
      • ‘Through their humour, wit and banter, they made significant observations and remarks on social issues.’
      • ‘Sense of humor is said to be the biggest turn-on.’
      • ‘He's put that optimism, curiosity, humour, and his ability to play guitar to good use, performing close to 150 dates a year.’
      • ‘Sense of humour is still a winner with both sexes; 64 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men rated it the most important personality trait.’
      • ‘As well as James bringing his own inimitable brand of Jewish humour, in recent months clergymen of all denominations have chipped in with their own.’
      • ‘His earthy humor, his ability to joke when things seemed darkest, and his endless supply of homespun stories certainly helped him cope with the crises of war.’
      • ‘Charlie senior, famed for his red nose and bowler hat, was known all over the world for his tricks, humour and ability to play countless musical instruments.’
      • ‘She has a perfect balance of wit, sense, humour and intelligence and knows the value of a well crafted insult.’
      • ‘He doesn't look at me, but I can tell he understood my brand of humor.’
      • ‘It would not be an exaggeration to say I am in some awe of this lady; she is facing a difficult time in her life with courage, common sense and humour.’
      • ‘If one tickles your sense of curiosity, humour, or intellect, have a browse through the archives for much more.’
      • ‘She has an infectious humour, a hearty laugh and can fill a room with her cheerful personality.’
      • ‘He didn't appreciate my humor and dragged me into the kitchen.’
      • ‘I have the sneaking suspicion that most comedy fans below the age of 20 won't appreciate Simon's offbeat humor.’
      wittiness, funniness, facetiousness, drollery, waggishness
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  • 2A mood or state of mind.

    ‘her good humour vanished’
    ‘the clash hadn't improved his humour’
    • ‘The continent's ruling class is thus in a foul humor.’
    • ‘She phoned about three quarters of an hour later, apologising that the line got chopped off, and in a better humour.’
    • ‘Also working against the timber framed houses was the fact that I was in a 9am humour, not much of a morning person - me.’
    • ‘You forgave her for anything, noticed her every little change and could naturally sense her mood or humour.’
    • ‘This resulted in some labels for groups that reflected participant moods or humor.’
    • ‘This was very disappointing, but when the meal was over he appeared to be in a better humour.’
    • ‘Twenty minutes later we were shown to our table and instantly, everyone's humour improved.’
    mood, temper, disposition, temperament, frame of mind, state of mind
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    1. 2.1archaic [count noun]An inclination or whim.
      ‘and have you really burnt all your Plays to please a Humour?’
      • ‘The female incapable of intellectual purpose, governed by her whims and humours, is a misogynistic cliche not only of the time, but very much of his writings.’
      tendency, propensity, proclivity, leaning
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  • 3historical [count noun] Each of the four chief fluids of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile (choler), and black bile (melancholy)) that were thought to determine a person's physical and mental qualities by the relative proportions in which they were present.

    • ‘According to this theory, the most important determinants of health were the four humours found in the body: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile.’
    • ‘Traditionally, disease is seen as the effect of bad winds and an imbalance of the four humors of the body.’
    • ‘Back in the days of the four humors, people had no problem believing that temperaments emerged from the balance, or imbalance, of chemicals in the body.’
    • ‘Its most important doctrine was that of the four humours.’
    • ‘According to humoral theory, the body comprised of the four humours blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy; and pathological conditions are the result of humoral abnormalities.’


  • 1 Comply with the wishes of (someone) in order to keep them content, however unreasonable such wishes might be.

    ‘she was always humouring him to prevent trouble’
    • ‘I've met one other person in my life who has related to this, although actually with hindsight I think she might just have been humouring me.’
    • ‘She humored me and encouraged me nonstop, and I shall always be indebted to her.’
    • ‘I know this is an old chestnut, written by loads of people ad infinitum but for now humour me.’
    • ‘‘Well, that's always good to hear,’ the nurse said, humoring me.’
    • ‘The women looked at the photograph, but you could see they were just humouring him.’
    • ‘You're right,’ she said, humoring him with an indulgent smile.’
    • ‘Well, I'm trying to justify the money we spent tonight, so humor me.’
    • ‘When I get upset, people humor me and tell me it's okay - that I'll get over it.’
    • ‘But the old man seemed to have made up his mind, and so, to humor him, he did as he wished.’
    • ‘Not that I don't like talking to you, but I always feel like you're just humoring me when you listen to me rave about this show or that show.’
    • ‘But we humoured him, since he spoke our sort of language.’
    • ‘I can't really understand the distinct aversion felt by the three persons who humored me by coming along.’
    • ‘His manner was friendly, and I decided to humour him.’
    • ‘I'll just humour him for the 7 days and then we can get back to normal!’
    • ‘I had always figured he humored me while I chattered away so he could take some more pictures.’
    • ‘To humour him I used that term throughout the interview.’
    • ‘However, it's possible they were just humoring me.’
    • ‘I humoured him, not attempting to put his illusions straight.’
    • ‘You never quite get the feeling they're interested, they always seem to be doing it to humour you.’
    • ‘I feel like I'm the only girl on the boy's team and they're humouring me.’
    indulge, pander to, yield to, bow to, cater to, give way to, give in to, go along with, comply with, adapt to, accommodate
    pamper, spoil, overindulge, cosset, coddle, mollycoddle, mollify, soothe, placate, gratify, satisfy
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    1. 1.1archaic Adapt or accommodate oneself to (something)
      ‘in reading this stanza we ought to humour it with a corresponding tone of voice’


  • out of humour

    • In a bad mood.


Middle English: via Old French from Latin humor moisture, from humere (see humid). The original sense was ‘bodily fluid’ (surviving in aqueous humour and vitreous humour); it was used specifically for any of the cardinal humours ( humour), whence ‘mental disposition’ (thought to be caused by the relative proportions of the humours). This led, in the 16th century, to the senses ‘mood’( humour) and ‘whim’, hence to humour someone ‘to indulge a person's whim’. humour dates from the late 16th century.