[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

  • "For humane reasons," Demarest commented, nodding approbation.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The eventuality he had not foreseen had appalled him as a humane man and a fond husband.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • History will some day do him justice, for he was good, humane, and confiding.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The shows will be given for the benefit of the Humane Society.

    Concerning Cats

    Helen M. Winslow

  • Hawkins and Drake were as devout and humane as other men of their time.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

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