Words related to humor

humid (adj.)

"moist or accompanied with moisture; containing, or formed or effected by, water or vapor; wet, damp," early 15c., from Old French humide, umide "damp, wet" (15c.) or directly from Latin humidus "moist, wet," variant (probably by influence of humus "earth") of umidus, from umere "be moist, be wet," from Proto-Italic *umo- "wet" (also source of Latin umidus "wet, moist," umiditas "moisture," umor "moisture, fluid," umectus "moist, wet"), perhaps from PIE *uhrmo- "wet," from the same source as Latin urina [de Vaan].

good-humored (adj.)
also good-humoured, 1660s, from good (adj.) + past-participle adjective from humor (v.). Related: Good-humoredly.
cynicism (n.)

1670s, "philosophy or doctrines of the Cynics" (indifference to pleasure, stoicism pushed to austerity, asceticism), from cynic + -ism. Meaning "cynical character" is from 1847. For nuances of usage, see humor (n.).


eighth letter of the alphabet; it comes from Phoenician, via Greek and Latin. In Phoenician it originally had a rough guttural sound like German Reich or Scottish loch. In Greek at first it had the value of Modern English -h-, and with this value it passed into the Latin alphabet via Greek colonies in Italy. Subsequently in Greek it came to be used for a long "e" sound; the "h" sound being indicated by a fragment of the letter, which later was reduced to the aspiration mark.

In Germanic it was used for the voiceless breath sound when at the beginning of words, and in the middle or at the end of words for the rough guttural sound, which later came to be written -gh.

The sound became totally silent in Vulgar Latin and in the languages that emerged from it; thus the letter was omitted in Old French and Italian, but it was restored pedantically in French and Middle English spelling, and often later in English pronunciation. Thus Modern English has words ultimately from Latin with missing -h- (able, from Latin habile); with a silent -h- (heir, hour); with a formerly silent -h- now often vocalized (humble, humor, herb); and even a few with an unetymological -h- fitted in confusion to words that never had one (hostage, hermit). Relics of the formerly unvoiced -h- persist in pedantic insistence on an historical (object) and in obsolete mine host.

The pronunciation "aitch" was in Old French (ache "name of the letter H"), and is from a presumed Late Latin *accha (compare Italian effe, elle, emme), with the central sound approximating the rough, guttural value of the letter in Germanic. In earlier Latin the letter was called ha. The use in digraphs (as in -sh-, -th-) goes back to the ancient Greek alphabet, which used it in -ph-, -th-, -kh- until -H- took on the value of a long "e" and the digraphs acquired their own characters. The letter passed into Roman use before this evolution, and thus retained there more of its original Semitic value.

humoral (adj.)

in old medicine, "pertaining to the humors of the body," early 15c., from Old French humoral (14c.), from Latin humor (see humor (n.)).

humorist (n.)

1590s, "person with the ability to entertain by comical fancy, humorous talker or writer," also "person who acts according to his humors" (obsolete), from humor (n.) + -ist. Perhaps on model of French humoriste.

humorless (adj.)
1838, from humor (n.) + -less. Related: Humorlessly; humorlessness.
humorous (adj.)

early 15c., in physiology and medicine, "relating to the body humors, characterized by an abundance of humors," a native formation from humor (n.), or else from Medieval Latin humorosus. In Shakespeare also "whimsical, full of fancies" (1580s); "ill-humored, peevish, moody" (c. 1600). The meaning "funny, exciting laughter" dates from 1705 in English. Related: Humorously; humorousness.

chiefly British English spelling of humor; see -or. Related: Humourous; humourously; humourist; humourless, etc.
invective (n.)

"an attacking in words," 1520s, from Medieval Latin invectiva "abusive speech," from Late Latin invectivus "abusive, scolding" from invect-, past-participle stem of invehere "to bring in, carry in, introduce," also "assault, assail," from in- "against" (see in- (1)) + vehere "to carry" (from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move, transport in a vehicle"). For nuances of usage, see humor (n.). The earlier noun form in English was inveccion (mid-15c.), and invective (adj.) was in Middle English.