• synonyms


[hyoo-muh s or, often, yoo-]
See more synonyms for humus on Thesaurus.com
  1. the dark organic material in soils, produced by the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter and essential to the fertility of the earth.
Show More

Origin of humus

1790–1800; < Latin: earth, ground; akin to Greek chamaí on the ground, chthṓn earth, Sanskrit kṣam-, Lithuanian žẽmė, Serbo-Croatian zèmlja ground, earth; cf. chameleon, chthonian, zemstvo; see Homo
Related formsnon·hu·mus, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for humus

Historical Examples

  • This vegetable addition to the soil is generally known as humus.

    Agriculture for Beginners

    Charles William Burkett

  • Where there is an abundance of humus in the soil there is likely also to be an abundance of nitrogen.

  • The more there is of this humus in the soil, the more thriftily plants will grow.

    Conservation Reader

    Harold W. Fairbanks

  • These bodies have received the collective names Humus and Geine.

  • Most of the crops require tillage, and that is exhaustive of the store of humus.

British Dictionary definitions for humus


  1. a dark brown or black colloidal mass of partially decomposed organic matter in the soil. It improves the fertility and water retention of the soil and is therefore important for plant growth
Show More

Word Origin

C18: from Latin: soil, earth


Avoid confusion with hummus
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 humus


1796, from Latin humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE *dhghem- "earth" (cf. Latin humilis "low;" see chthonic). Related: Humous (adj.).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

humus in Science


  1. A dark-brown or black organic substance made up of decayed plant or animal matter. Humus provides nutrients for plants and increases the ability of soil to retain water.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.