[hyoo-meyn or, often, yoo-]


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 formshu·mane·ly, adverbhu·mane·ness, nounun·hu·mane, adjectiveun·hu·mane·ly, adverbun·hu·mane·ness, noun
Can be confusedhuman humane (see synonym study at human)

Synonyms for humane

Antonyms for humane

1. brutal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for humane

Contemporary Examples of humane

Historical Examples of humane

  • Scott was too kind, too humane, to disappoint us, the crowd of human beings who find much of our happiness in dreams.

  • He spoke with peculiar asperity of Sprat, who had undoubtedly been the most humane and moderate member of the board.

  • There are no conceivable ethical or religious interests and no humane goals or values that justify these things.

    Preaching and Paganism

    Albert Parker Fitch

  • It is shorn of the honors, both of a humane and patriotic enterprise, and merged in the responsibility of a political misdemeanor.

    Abolition a Sedition

    Geo. W. Donohue

  • I believe—nay, I know—that in general our officers and soldiers are humane.

    The Art of Public Speaking

    Dale Carnagey (AKA Dale Carnegie) and J. Berg Esenwein

British Dictionary definitions for humane



characterized by kindness, mercy, sympathy, etc
inflicting as little pain as possiblea humane killing
civilizing or liberal (esp in the phrases humane studies, humane education)
Derived Formshumanely, adverbhumaneness, noun

Word Origin for humane

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

Word Origin and History for humane

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