Humor vs. humour

  • Humor and humour are different spellings of the same word. Humor is preferred in American English, and humour is preferred in all the other main varieties of English. The distinction extends to the derivative participleshumored/humoured and humoring/humouring—but in all varieties of English the second-syllable is dropped from the adjective humorous.




    This is not to say that first-rate humor can’t be squeezed out of the spy game. [Washington Post]

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

    Alà¿s’s work is full of these humorous touches, which convert potentially cold conceptual pranks into warm, whimsical human experiences. [Boston Globe]


    Outside the U.S.

    With Ross’s keen editorial observations, his self-deprecating humour and his supporting cast of characters, Eyes is a welcome addition to my shelves of newspaper noir. [Calgary Herald]

    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]


    Hundreds of comments have also been left on the auction, ranging from humorous puns and questions to praise for Johnson’s initiative. []

    The second play, Greek is a humorous twist on the Oedipus legend reflected in 1980s London culture. [BBC News]


    1. Humor derives from Latin humor, not humour. Hence the extra u is completely redundant, and the American spelling is more etymologically correct.

    2. What a daft explanation.
      Humour is English. Humor is American.
      Don’t talk about the language spoken in England as a variant of English.
      English comes from England, you are speaking the variant.

      • henricusregius says

        You need to learn the difference between “varieties” (what they said, completely neutral regarding primacy) and “variants” (what you imagined they said so that you could take umbrage, having the sense of offshoots of the main or primary version). British English, American English, Indian English, Jamaican English are all varieties of English.

      • I agree. English in England is just English. English spoken in the USA is American English.
        -Lilly from USA

        • Well, if you’re going to be technical, I’d like to point out that American English is only a specific variant of English and there is nothing incorrect about saying “I speak English” as an American. Just as saying: “I eat pizza” does not make the phrase “I eat food” incorrect.

    3. It may be useful to note that humour is an accepted spelling in the US when referring to certain bodily fluids in medicine.

    4. Johnny Zimmerman says

      The Americans are fucking wrong, but then again, they usually are about a great many things.

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