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

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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

Other words from humus

  • non·hu·mus, noun

Words Nearby humus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use humus in a sentence

  • See that the soil contains enough humus or vegetable mold to make it rich and to enable it to hold moisture.

British Dictionary definitions for humus


/ (ˈhjuːməs) /

  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

Origin of humus

C18: from Latin: soil, earth

confusable For humus

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

Scientific definitions for humus


[ hyōōməs ]

  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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.