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Humour vs. Humor

In this Grammar.com article you will learn the differences between Humour and Humor.


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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Humor me! Or, Humour me?

This amusing word has two alternative spellings which are most widely used in the English language and guess what? Both of them are correct. Humor without the u and humour with the u both have the same meaning and pronunciation, the only difference among them is their prevalence in different parts of the world.

For understanding the right use of the word, first you need to be absolutely sure what it means. We’ll discuss the different meanings of the word humor along with some examples.

Humor as noun:

The quality of being amusing or funny especially in literature and speech or the ability to amuse others is called humor.

She tells stories that are full of humor.

Humor is a state of mind or a mood of a person.

He is usually good humored, I don’t know what is wrong with him today.

Humor as verb:

When a person complies with all the wishes of someone to keep them content however unreasonable and inappropriate the wishes might be, he is humoring that person.

He always humors her to prevent trouble.

An old use of humor as a verb is to adapt or accommodate oneself to something.

Anne humored her speech with a corresponding tone of voice.

With the definitions known, now we’ll go on to the usage of different alternative form in different regions of the world.

Humour vs. Humor

Humour with a u is most commonly used in British and the rest of the English speaking world except America, which has a habit of separating themselves from everyone. This habit of theirs have led to changes in the spellings of many words making them shorter wherever possible. So humor without the u is the acceptable form of writing humor in American English and thus American writings. This American British distinction extends to all the derived participles like humored/humoured and humoring/humouring all over the world except one; humorous. When the adjective form of humor, humorous is involved, the second syllable u always dropped.

Hundreds of comments have also been left on the auction, ranging from humorous puns and questions to praise for Johnson’s initiative. (Stuff NZ)
The second play, Greek is a humorous twist on the Oedipus legend reflected in 1980s London culture. (BBC News)

Humor:

The American way of entertaining others is humor, the shorter spellings without u as suggested by a famous American lexicographer, Noah Webster. So if you live in America, you might want to omit the u while writing humor.

But the level of humor—much of it distinctly of the bathroom variety—is aimed squarely at the under-13 set. (USA Today)

Humour:

Everyone else in the world (accept America) is entertained by humour, the longer form with the u which is the older word and spellings originated from Latin. So if you live in British or any other country of the world except America, you should use the longer version of humour.

It’s all very good humoured, in a British way, however much people worry that the civic character of the town is being eroded. (Telegraph)

Humor or Humour:

It is really simple to remember that which humor is common where. If the spellings are shorter, it’s American and if they are longer, it belongs to everywhere other than America. One reason of choosing one alternative is from the other is the audience you are writing for. If you are writing for global audience, you should use humour but if your audience is specifically American, you should use humor.

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6 Comments

  • Clive Jordaan
    Before we become too smug about how English should be spoken, and the correct spelling of words, we should consider the fact that many millions of speakers of English as a foreign language (outside of the commonwealth couintries) are constantly being exposed to American English. As a result, US English may very well, "inadequate" as it is for us purists, become the international norm, if this has not already happened.. 
    LikeReplyReport 110 months ago
  • Vicky Zheng
    goodness
    LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Tane Mcdonald
    i'm gonna go to the toilet and do a ginormous poo!!!
    LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Dazza Burns
    You are incorrect, to a certain degree. Humour is the correct way to spell it in the English language and there is no other way. However, the Americans, in their efforts to hide their errors, don't speak English, they speak what they call, American English. Of course, there is no such thing. The reality is that when we English created the USA way back in the 16/1700's, we did not send enough English teachers over and as a result, the people of the USA started to spell many words incorrectly. Neighbor, should be neighbour, for example and color should be colour. There are many words that they mis-spell. A few years ago they decided to try to end their embarressment at their incompetence in the use of the language that they speak by stating that they are not in fact speaking English, but they are speaking American English. So hopefully anyone reading this will know that it is the Americans and countries that follow them who spell things differently and if they want to know the correct way of spelling an English word, ask the English! 
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
  • Jutta Thorne
    In the first paragraph you say "among them" instead of "in between them". "Among them is when there are more than two", "In between them" is for two. I have noticed numerous grammatical errors in "Grammar.com" as well as in "Grammarly". Please consult with someone who has impeccable knowledge of English Grammar! 
    LikeReplyReport 12 years ago
    • Dazza Burns
      Agreed Jutta. I think the website is written by an American, who can't admit that their grasp of the language they speak is somewhat, inadequate.
      LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Ichi Monarch
    eh thats prety good
    LikeReplyReport 13 years ago

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