[hyoo-muh-nist or, often, yoo-]
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  1. a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values, and dignity.
  2. a person devoted to or versed in the humanities.
  3. a student of human nature or affairs.
  4. a classical scholar.
  5. (sometimes initial capital letter) any one of the scholars of the Renaissance who pursued and disseminated the study and understanding of the cultures of ancient Rome and Greece, and emphasized secular, individualistic, and critical thought.
  6. (sometimes initial capital letter) a person who follows a form of philosophical or scientific humanism.
adjective Also hu·man·is·tic [hyoo-muh-nis-tik, or, often, yoo‐] /ˌhyu məˈnɪs tɪk, or, often, ˌyu‐/
  1. of or relating to human affairs, nature, welfare, or values: our humanist principles; a humanist approach to social reform.
  2. (sometimes initial capital letter) of or relating to the humanities or classical scholarship, especially that of the Renaissance humanists: humanist studies; the Humanist ideology of Petrarch.
  3. of or relating to philosophical or scientific humanism: a humanist philosophy that clashed with his parents’ religious beliefs.

Origin of humanist

1585–95; < Middle French, French humaniste “classics scholar, classicist” See human, -ist
Related formshu·man·is·ti·cal·ly, adverban·ti·hu·man·ist, noun, adjectivean·ti·hu·man·is·tic, adjectivenon·hu·ma·nist, nounnon·hu·man·is·tic, adjectivepseu·do·hu·man·is·tic, adjectivequa·si-hu·man·is·tic, adjectivesem·i·hu·man·is·tic, adjectiveun·hu·man·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of humanistic

Word Origin and History for humanistic

1845 (humanistical is from 1716), in reference to Renaissance or classical humanism; from humanist + -ic. From 1904 in reference to a modern philosophy that concerns itself with the interests of the human race.



1580s, "student of the classical humanities," from Middle French humaniste (16c.), formed on model of Italian umanista "student of human affairs or human nature," coined by Italian poet Lodovicio Ariosto (1474-1533), from Latin humanus "human" (see human; also cf. humanism). Philosophical sense is from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

humanistic in Culture


In the Renaissance, a scholar who studied the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome; today, a scholar of the humanities. The term secular humanist is applied to someone who concentrates on human activities and possibilities, usually downplaying or denying the importance of God and a life after death.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.