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[hyoo-meyn or, often, yoo-] /hyuˈmeɪn or, often, yu-/
characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed:
humane treatment of prisoners.
acting in a manner that causes the least harm to people or animals:
humane trapping of stray pets.
of or relating to humanistic studies.
Origin of humane
orig. stress variant of human, restricted to above senses from 18th century; cf. germane, german
Related forms
humanely, adverb
humaneness, noun
unhumane, adjective
unhumanely, adverb
unhumaneness, noun
Can be confused
human, humane (see synonym study at human)
1. merciful, kind, kindly, kindhearted, tender, compassionate, gentle, sympathetic; benevolent, benignant, charitable. See human.
1. brutal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for humane
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She is becoming just, scrupulous, humane, and therefore she is doomed.

    Appearances Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
  • The eventuality he had not foreseen had appalled him as a humane man and a fond husband.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • But the power of that bad man was strong upon her, and directly the humane thrill left her bosom.

    Norston's Rest Ann S. Stephens
  • The shows will be given for the benefit of the humane Society.

    Concerning Cats Helen M. Winslow
  • That seemed to be quite sufficient for that humane officer, for he ordered the interments to proceed.

British Dictionary definitions for humane


characterized by kindness, mercy, sympathy, etc
inflicting as little pain as possible: a humane killing
civilizing or liberal (esp in the phrases humane studies, humane education)
Derived Forms
humanely, adverb
humaneness, noun
Word Origin
C16: variant of 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
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Word Origin and History for humane

mid-15c., variant of human (cf. german/germane, urban/urbane), used interchangeably with it until early 18c., by which time it had become a distinct word with sense of "having qualities befitting human beings." But inhuman still can be the opposite of humane. The Royal Humane Society (founded 1774) was originally to rescue drowning persons. Such societies had turned to animal care by late 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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