[suhb-hyoo-muh n or, often, -yoo-]


less than or not quite human.
almost human: In some respects, the porpoise is subhuman.

Origin of subhuman

First recorded in 1785–95; sub- + human Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for subhuman

heartless, callous, cold, cruel, feral, insensitive

Examples from the Web for subhuman

Contemporary Examples of subhuman

  • He has called the president of the United States a “subhuman mongrel,” and only Hunter S. Thompson can do that.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The GOP’s Real Ted Nugent Problem

    James Poulos

    February 22, 2014

  • They were united in their disgust at economic inequalities, corporate rapaciousness, and subhuman working conditions.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Lillian Hellman, Clarence Birdseye and Thai Jones: Must Read Nonfiction

    Victoria Beale, Wendy Smith, Kevin Canfield

    May 17, 2012

  • Both sides imagined the other was a monster, a subhuman worthy only of death.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Very Good War

    Bob Kerrey

    March 10, 2010

  • For their hard work, they are treated like subhuman filth and shooed to the “colored” restroom out back.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Do I Have to Read The Help?

    William Boot

    January 16, 2010

  • If you view all cheating husbands as subhuman, her assessment is to be expected, but I found the comment startling.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Not to Manage a Harem

    Tracy Quan

    December 8, 2009

Historical Examples of subhuman

  • Only some subhuman could bring himself to study such things.

    The Weakling

    Everett B. Cole

  • In their fleeting and impersonal character, however, they are subhuman.

  • They were things of beauty, but it was a beauty strange, menacing, subhuman.

    The Nest Builder

    Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale

  • Man was superhuman in power and glory, subhuman in morality.

    By Earthlight

    Bryce Walton

  • It seems a strange ending for an angel-song, a far drop from the superhuman to the subhuman.

British Dictionary definitions for subhuman



of, relating to, or designating animals that are below man (Homo sapiens) in evolutionary development
less than 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 subhuman

1793, from sub- + human. The noun is first recorded 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper