Definition of humour in English:


Line breaks: hu¦mour
Pronunciation: /ˈhjuːmə
(US humor)


[mass noun]
1The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech: his tales are full of humour
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  • They are full of raw Taiwanese humor and literary surprises.
  • They remain a benchmark of quality for British humour.
  • What made all this watchable, indeed endearing, was a constant thread of humour and the quality of the writing and acting.
comical aspect, comic side, funny side, comedy, funniness, hilarity, jocularity;
absurdity, absurdness, ludicrousness, drollness, facetiousness;
1.1The ability to express humour or amuse other people: their inimitable brand of humour
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  • 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.
  • Sense of humor is said to be the biggest turn-on.
  • Sense of humour is definitely what we need in this particular subject matter, and especially looking at that text.
2A mood or state of mind: her good humour vanished the clash hadn’t improved his humour
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  • This resulted in some labels for groups that reflected participant moods or humor.
  • You forgave her for anything, noticed her every little change and could naturally sense her mood or 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;
2.1 [count noun] archaic An inclination or whim: and have you really burnt all your Plays to please a Humour?
More example sentences
  • 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.
3 (also cardinal humour) [count noun] historical 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.


[with object] Back to top  
1Comply 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
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  • I had always figured he humored me while I chattered away so he could take some more pictures.
  • I can't really understand the distinct aversion felt by the three persons who humored me by coming along.
  • But the old man seemed to have made up his mind, and so, to humor him, he did as he wished.
1.1 archaic Adapt or accommodate oneself to (something): in reading this stanza we ought to humour it with a corresponding tone of voice


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 (sense 3 of the noun), whence 'mental disposition' (thought to be caused by the relative proportions of the humours). This led, in the 16th century, to the senses 'mood' (sense 2 of the noun) and 'whim', hence to humour someone 'to indulge a person's whim'. sense 1 of the noun dates from the late 16th century.


out of humour

In a bad mood.

sense of humour

A person’s ability to appreciate humour: in all the ups and downs of his life he never lost his sense of humour
More example sentences
  • In short, I find him a little humourless and dull.
  • On the basis of his TV performance, I expected him to be humourless and gloomy.
  • She was a joyless, humorless woman, stark and judgmental.

Definition of humour in: