[hyoo-meyn or, often, yoo-]
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  1. characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed: humane treatment of prisoners.
  2. acting in a manner that causes the least harm to people or animals: humane trapping of stray pets.
  3. 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

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Antonyms for humane

1. brutal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for humaneness

Historical Examples of humaneness

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for humaneness


  1. characterized by kindness, mercy, sympathy, etc
  2. inflicting as little pain as possiblea humane killing
  3. 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 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