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[hyoo-man-i-tair-ee-uh n or, often, yoo-] /hyuˌmæn ɪˈtɛər i ən or, often, yu-/
having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.
of or relating to ethical or theological humanitarianism.
pertaining to the saving of human lives or to the alleviation of suffering:
a humanitarian crisis.
a person actively engaged in promoting human welfare and social reforms, as a philanthropist.
a person who professes ethical or theological humanitarianism.
Origin of humanitarian
1810-20; humanit(y) + -arian
Related forms
antihumanitarian, adjective, noun
semihumanitarian, adjective, noun
unhumanitarian, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for humanitarian
  • The humanitarian's first obligation is to do no harm.
  • Making comparisons between humanitarian crises may not always be fair or useful.
  • Imperialism has always been more humanitarian than terrorism.
  • Michael was a brilliant man and a real humanitarian.
  • In a sense, the years of the cold war were the halcyon days of humanitarian aid.
  • The path of the future will find a broader objective in the direction indicated by the humanitarian path.
  • Much of the current humanitarian effort will depend on ocean-going transport.
  • His rule was remarkably energetic, humanitarian, and free of corruption.
  • Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, we must provide economic assistance, and help rebuild what has been destroyed.
  • The enemy was offered to surrender the village while a humanitarian corridor for the civilians was established.
British Dictionary definitions for humanitarian


having the interests of mankind at heart
of or relating to ethical or theological humanitarianism
a philanthropist
an adherent of humanitarianism
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 humanitarian

1794 (n.) in the theological sense "one who affirms the humanity of Christ but denies his pre-existence and divinity," from humanity + suffix from unitarian, etc.; see humanism. Meaning "philanthropist, one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems" is from 1842, originally disparaging, with a suggestion of excess. As an adjective, by 1834.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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