I haven’t done humor related words before, so here we go.
Fun is relatively new, having shown up in the late seventeenth century
meaning to cheat or hoax, and not meaning amusement until 1727—though
it did mean foolish or silly as early as the fifteenth century. Its origin is
uncertain, though it might be from the Middle
, befool, which is the origin word for fond
Fun actually wasn’t used much because it was judged to be a lower class word. Basically,
if you hear someone complain about vernacular used by a minority, that’s what
they used to do with fun. As for funny, it didn’t show up until 1756
where it meant humorous, and then meaning odd by 1806.
Joke showed up in the mid seventeenth century
where it was spelled joque
. It comes from the classical Latin iocus
which just means joke
which is from the Proto Italic joko-
and Proto Indo European iok-o-
word or utterance. So fun, weirdly recent, joke, weirdly old.
Amuse showed up in the late fifteenth century
from the Old
. That’s a mix of the prefix a-, at or to
, and muse, to ponder or think. Muse is actually a bit weirder than you might
think. It showed up in the mid fourteenth century
from the Old French muser
, but the origin of that
You’re probably going, well isn’t from the Greek word Muse? I don’t know, maybe? I
mean, there are some people who think that muse is from the Gallo Roman musa
, which means snout, and muse means something like scenting the air.
While muse might not be from the Greek Muse, honestly, it really would make
sense that it was, because Muse is from the Proto Indo European men-
think. But this whole word is crazy, so who knows?
Now, we all know that humor has some varying definitions. It
can mean amusement, or it can mean a mood, or it can mean the “fluid or juice
of an animal or plant.” Which… kind of not like the other two. Those can’t be
related, can they? Ha ha, you fool, you absolute naïve fool. Humor showed up in
the mid fourteenth century
fluid/juice one, coming from the Old North French humour
, from the classical Latin umor
And guess what, that’s the origin word for humid
not making that up. See, what happened is, humors was also a medical term for
body fluids (blood, phlegm, et al.), and people used to believe that a person’s
mood was affected by those fluids, so a humor became a state of mind. From
there, it came to mean an amusing
state of mind. And that’s why humor
went from moist to that.
Wow. That was certainly a trip. Who would have guessed humor
words were so crazy?
SourcesOnline Etymology Dictionary
University of Texas at Austin
Linguistic Research Center
of Texas at San Antonio
’s page on Proto Indo European
of Texas at Arlington