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I've never understood the term "humor me". Is it meant sarcastically? Please explain.

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  • Humour is a verb there. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 12:27
  • is it used sarcastically sometimes? Last night I was watching constantine, in that hero uses this often..
    – pahnin
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 12:30
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    Any utterance can be used sarcastically. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 12:32
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    General Reference. Humour Verb (used with object) to comply with the humour or mood of in order to soothe or make content or more agreeable Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 12:35
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    @StoneyB: I've no idea what "constantine" is, or how the hero there uses the expression. But I don't see how your posted answer adds anything to the dictionary definitions in links posted by me and Matt. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 12:47

2 Answers 2

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Humor, as a verb, means literally to indulge or tolerate someone's humor (noun), where the noun intends not the modern sense of joking or a transient mood but the now archaic sense of temperament or idiosyncracy or eccentricity.

Humor me thus means indulge me—in the sense of gimme some slack or gimme a break, but less aggressive than these. It is used most often as an appeal, at once gentle and ironic, to an interlocutor who interrupts one's discourse; it means, approximately, Let's treat what I'm saying (or doing) and you're objecting to as mere personal whim—on that basis, allow me to finish, and then you can have your say.

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    To clarify, this usage of 'humor' as a verb is not archaic; it is very common. The noun isn't that archaic either, but the ideas behind seem from a former age.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 13:11
  • @Mitch Thank you; I thought I'd sufficiently restricted my attribution of 'archaic' to the noun, but I'll rewrite. I believe that the original sense of permanent character has been in almost entirely replaced in contemporary use by the sense of transient attitude, except ambiguously in such derivatives as "good-humored". We no longer say "He's a man of irascible humor", but we do say "He was in a good humor yesterday." Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 14:00
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"Hey, friend. Can I get you to stand right here under this teetering bucket of water?"

"Why?"

"Humor me."

"Oh, alright."

In my opinion, it isn't necessarily sarcastic, it's simply a way of saying: "Just comply with what I'm saying/doing right now and you can contradict me later."

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