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From Middle English, from Old French humor, from Latin humor, correctly umor ‎(moisture), from humere, correctly umere ‎(to be moist).



humour ‎(usually uncountable, plural humours) (British)

  1. (uncountable) The quality of being amusing, comical, funny. [from the early 18th c.]
    She has a great sense of humour, and I always laugh a lot whenever we get together.
    The sensitive subject was treated with humour, but in such way that no one was offended.
    • Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)
      For thy sake I admit / That a Scot may have humour, I'd almost said wit.
    • Washington Irving (1783-1859)
      A great deal of excellent humour was expended on the perplexities of mine host.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall, The Squire's Daughter, chapterI:
      They stayed together during three dances, went out on to the terrace, explored wherever they were permitted to explore, paid two visits to the buffet, and enjoyed themselves much in the same way as if they had been school-children surreptitiously breaking loose from an assembly of grown-ups. The boy became volubly friendly and bubbling over with unexpected humour and high spirits.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      Charles had not been employed above six months at Darracott Place, but he was not such a whopstraw as to make the least noise in the performance of his duties when his lordship was out of humour.
  2. (uncountable) A mood, especially a bad mood; a temporary state of mind or disposition brought upon by an event; an abrupt illogical inclination or whim.
    He was in a particularly vile humour that afternoon.
    • Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
      a prince of a pleasant humour
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      I like not the humour of lying.
    • Lord Roscommon (1633?-1684)
      Examine how your humour is inclined, / And which the ruling passion of your mind.
    • Robert South (1634–1716)
      Is my friend all perfection, all virtue and discretion? Has he not humours to be endured?
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, chapter 1, in Twelve O'Clock:
      […] (it was the town's humour to be always gassing of phantom investors who were likely to come any moment and pay a thousand prices for everything) — “[…] Them rich fellers, they don't make no bad breaks with their money. […]”
  3. (archaic or historical) Any of the fluids in an animal body, especially the four "cardinal humours" of blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm that were believed to control the health and mood of the human body.
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Book I, New York 2001,page 147:
      A humour is a liquid or fluent part of the body, comprehended in it, for the preservation of it; and is either innate or born with us, or adventitious and acquisite.
    • 1763, Antoine-Simon Le Page Du Pratz, History of Louisisana (PG), (tr. 1774)page 42:
      For some days a fistula lacrymalis had come into my left eye, which discharged an humour, when pressed, that portended danger.
  4. (medicine) Either of the two regions of liquid within the eyeball, the aqueous humour and vitreous humour.
  5. (obsolete) Moist vapour, moisture.


Related terms[edit]

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humour ‎(third-person singular simple present humours, present participle humouring, simple past and past participle humoured)

  1. (transitive) To pacify by indulging.
    I know you don't believe my story, but humour me for a minute and imagine it to be true.


See also[edit]




humour m ‎(plural humours)

  1. humor; comic effect in a communication or performance.

Related terms[edit]

External links[edit]



humour m ‎(invariable)

  1. sense of humour

Old French[edit]


humour m, f

  1. (Anglo-Norman) Alternative form of humor