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[hyoo-meyn or, often, yoo-] /hyuˈmeɪn or, often, yu-/
characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed:
humane treatment of prisoners.
acting in a manner that causes the least harm to people or animals:
humane trapping of stray pets.
of or relating to humanistic studies.
Origin of humane
orig. stress variant of human, restricted to above senses from 18th century; cf. germane, german
Related forms
humanely, adverb
humaneness, noun
unhumane, adjective
unhumanely, adverb
unhumaneness, noun
Can be confused
human, humane (see synonym study at human)
1. merciful, kind, kindly, kindhearted, tender, compassionate, gentle, sympathetic; benevolent, benignant, charitable. See human.
1. brutal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for humaneness
Historical Examples
  • Are not quacks then, whom we know, better than the doctors who put on an air of humaneness?

    Indian Home Rule M. K. Gandhi
  • Religion does not generate sense, logic, or humaneness in the mind of Society.

    Flowers of Freethought George W. Foote
  • He is the epitome of mildness, the incarnation of humaneness.

    Comrade Kropotkin Victor Robinson
  • So when his desire is the virtue of humaneness, and he attains it, how shall he then be covetous?

    The Wisdom of Confucius Epiphanius Wilson
  • We must be humane; humaneness is not only beautiful, but also advantageous to us.

    The Shield

  • His reply, which I believe has never as yet been published, redounds to his immortal fame as a man of fortitude and humaneness.

    Great Testimony Stephen Coleridge
  • Humanism is humaneness based where Socrates and Plato based it, on knowledge, understanding and intelligence.

  • It adds to family and the men's house a powerful agency in maintaining at least the possibility of humaneness and sympathy.


    John Dewey and James Hayden Tufts
  • He wrote an open letter to Hauptmann, to the author whom among Germans he chiefly honored for goodness and humaneness.

    Romain Rolland Stefan Zweig
  • The humaneness shown by the Swedes to the Jews was avenged by the inhumanity of the Poles.

British Dictionary definitions for humaneness


characterized by kindness, mercy, sympathy, etc
inflicting as little pain as possible: a humane killing
civilizing or liberal (esp in the phrases humane studies, humane education)
Derived Forms
humanely, adverb
humaneness, noun
Word Origin
C16: variant of human
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for humaneness



mid-15c., variant of human (cf. german/germane, urban/urbane), used interchangeably with it until early 18c., by which time it had become a distinct word with sense of "having qualities befitting human beings." But inhuman still can be the opposite of humane. The Royal Humane Society (founded 1774) was originally to rescue drowning persons. Such societies had turned to animal care by late 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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