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

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

nonhumus, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
humus (ˈhjuːməs)
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

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1796, from L. humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE *ghom- (cf. Gk. khamai "on the ground," Lith. zeme, O.C.S. zemlja "earth," L. humilis "low").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
humus   (hy'məs)  Pronunciation Key 
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
These bacteria also generate humus that can be used for turf or topsoil.
The vegan crostini-grilled bread with olive oil, humus and roasted vegetables antipasti-was hearty but not heavy.
Given the right mix of these components, decomposing organisms rapidly break
  down organic matter and produce rich humus.
Most of these are in the humus and the upper inches of topsoil.
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