Humour vs. Humor

  angbeenc  —  Grammar Tips
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 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)


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)


Everyone else in the world (except 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.