For instance, in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (1604) Constable Elbow is unintentionally comical because he confuses similar-sounding words (see malapropism ):
ELBOW: I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good honor two notorious benefactors.
ANGELO: . . . Are they not malefactors?
ELBOW: . . . precise villains they are, that I am sure of, and void of all profanation in the world that good Christians ought to have. (2.1.48-56)
In the medieval and renaissance periods, "humour" referred to the four major qualities of the human body, corresponding to the four elements, which determined human personality (choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine).
(See also comedy, irony, and satire.)