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'Humorous' or 'Humourous'? Which One Is Correct? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 2 April 2024)


Humorous or Humourous: Which One Is Correct?

English is a language with many regional differences. One such difference can be found in the spellings of certain words between American and British English.

Many words ending with the suffix -or in American English are spelt with the longer -our suffix in British English. This distinction can be seen in many examples:

color (American) vs colour (British)

flavor (American) vs flavour (British)

honor (American) vs honour (British)

labor (American) vs labour (British)

humor (American) vs humour (British)

What about Humorous vs Humourous?

While humor is the accepted spelling in American English and humour in British English, it is important to emphasise that humourous is not the British spelling of the adjective humorous. It may be tempting to assume that the -our suffix in British English should be carried over to the adjective form as well, but this is not the case. The universally accepted spelling of the adjective form of humor/humour is humorous.

The entry for the adjective humorous in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

The Cambridge Dictionary's entry for the misspelt word humourous


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Examples from the Media

A hilarious new online gallery has compiled the humorous notes from children revealing that kids really do say the funniest things. —Daily Mail (2019)

Writers, especially humorous ones, rely on caricatures and generalizations all the time. —New York Post (2021)

Our talented artists, illustrators and cartoonists give us their very own humorous version of the news of the day. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2020)

Meet the university professor who turned writing letters of recommendation into a humorous, bestselling novel. —Toronto Star (2020)

Real-World Examples of Misuse

The adjective humorous is spelt the same way in both British and American English, and the spelling humourous is considered an error.
(Source: 香港中學文憑試 : 英文星級句子全攻略)

Humorous is spelt the same way in both British and American English.
(Source: HKDSE English Language 2016 Question Papers)
(Also by HKEAA: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13)

1. The preposition at could be used, but right from the start sounds more natural. Additionally, once the writer has captured the reader's attention, ideally they want to hold on to it throughout the story.
2. The third-person singular verb wins should be used to agree with the singular subject an unusual start.
3. Humourous is a common misspelling of humorous.
(Source: Ying Wa Primary School)
(Also by the Same School: 1/2/3)

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