Student Dictionary

4 entries found for humor.
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Main Entry: 1hu·mor
Pronunciation: primarystresshyü-mschwar, primarystressyü-
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English humour "one of the four bodily fluids thought to affect a person's health," from early French umor, umour (same meaning), derived from Latin humor, umor "moisture"
1 : a changeable state of mind often influenced by circumstances <in a bad humor>
2 : the amusing quality of things <the humor of a situation>
3 : the power to see or tell about the amusing or comic side of things
4 : something that is humorous
- hu·mor·less /-lschwas/ adjective
- hu·mor·less·ness noun
Word History In the Middle Ages it was believed that a person's health and disposition were the result of a balance or imbalance of four fluids in the body. These fluids were called "humors," from the Latin word humor, meaning "moisture." These fluids were blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. If a person had a cheerful, confident disposition, it was said to be a result of an excess of blood. Such a person was called "sanguine," from the Latin word sanguis, meaning "blood." A sluggish disposition was said to be the result of an excess of phlegm. A person having such a disposition was called "phlegmatic," from the Greek word phlegma, meaning "flame, phlegm." A fiery, hot-tempered disposition was said to be caused by an excess of yellow bile. A person with this disposition was said to be "choleric," from the Greek word cholemacron, meaning "bile." The disposition of a gloomy, depressed person was said to be the result of an excess of black bile. Such a person was called "melancholy," from the Greek words melan-, meaning "black," and cholemacron, meaning "bile." In time the word humor came to be used as a general term for "disposition or temperament." From this developed the sense of "a changeable state of mind" or "mood." More recently humor has come to refer to something that is funny.

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