Perhaps the first thing to be said when giving a diachronic description of the field of humor studies is that the term “humor” in itself is a very modern one. In fact, taken in the broadly inclusive sense it has today, it dates no further back than the 20th century. Before this, its semantic charge was not only different, but also far more restricted than that which we currently give it. Derived from the classical use of the term to refer to those peculiar or dominant elements in a person that determine their character (choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, or sanguine), it evolved through Ben Jonson’s early 17th-century adaptation of the concept as a basis for comic characterization in terms of which an extravagant or affected emphasis on personal peculiarities made an individual subject to ridicule. The word, as used in this sense, became increasingly popular during the 18th and early 19th centuries, when it came to refer to a Romantic concept of the comic based on individual eccentricity and completely devoid of the critical intent that we normally associate with this genre nowadays. Previous to the connection thus established between the comic and the “humorous,” texts on the subject refer to a variety of terms such as laughter, wit, comedy, raillery, jesting, scorn, ridicule, mirth, or the risible, which are used to refer to different manifestations of the phenomenon and, more importantly for our purposes, to different attitudes and approaches to it.