Etymologies: “High Brow Humour”

high brow humour: humour that is intelligent, classy, refined


The term high brow humour originated in early Victorian era comedy clubs (1).  The social elite felt that it was undignified to show appreciation by clapping their hands; this was seen as boorish and only fit for the lower classes.  Thus many of the aristocrats showed their appreciation for a good joke by repeatedly raising and lowering their eye-brows vigorously.  Over time, jokes that these aristocrats found funny , and thus raised their brows, began to be called “high brow”.  The term has survived into modern times.


1 – Actually at the time they were called “Yukkers”, hence the phrase “yuk yuk”.


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