- human (adj.)
- mid-15c., humain, humaigne, from Old French humain, umain (adj.) "of or belonging to man" (12c.), from Latin humanus "of man, human," also "humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized," probably related to homo (genitive hominis) "man" (see homunculus) and to humus "earth," on notion of "earthly beings," as opposed to the gods (compare Hebrew adam "man," from adamah "ground"). Cognate with Old Lithuanian zmuo (accusative zmuni) "man, male person."
As a noun, from 1530s. Its Old English cognate guma (from Proto-Germanic *guman-) survives only in disguise in bridegroom. Related: Humanness. Human rights attested by 1680s; human being by 1690s. Human relations is from 1916; human resources attested by 1907, American English, apparently originally among social Christians and drawn from natural resources.
- humane (adj.)
- mid-15c., variant of human (compare 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.
- humanely (adv.)
- 1590s, from humane + -ly (2).
- humanism (n.)
- along with humanist used in a variety of philosophical and theological senses 16c.-18c., especially ones imitating Latin humanitas "education befitting a cultivated man." See human + -ism. Main modern sense in reference to revival of interest in the Classics traces to c. 1860; as a pragmatic system of thought, defined 1907 by co-founder F.C.S. Schiller as: "The perception that the philosophical problem concerns human beings striving to comprehend a world of human experience by the resources of human minds."
- humanist (n.)
- 1580s, "student of the classical humanities," from Middle French humaniste (16c.), formed on model of Italian umanista "student of human affairs or human nature," coined by Italian poet Lodovicio Ariosto (1474-1533), from Latin humanus “human” (see human; also see humanism). Philosophical sense is from 1903.
- humanistic (adj.)
- 1845 (humanistical is from 1716), in reference to Renaissance or classical humanism; from humanist + -ic. From 1904 in reference to a modern philosophy that concerns itself with the interests of the human race.
- humanitarian (n.)
- 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.
- humanitarianism (n.)
- by 1794 as a Christian theological position, from humanitarian + -ism. Sense related to ethical benevolence attested by 1838.
- humanities (n.)
- 1702; plural of humanity, which was used in English from late 15c. in a sense "class of studies concerned with human culture" (opposed variously at different times to divinity or sciences). Latin literae humaniores, they were those branches of literature (ancient classics, rhetoric, poetry) which tended to humanize or refine.
- humanity (n.)
- late 14c., "kindness, graciousness," from Old French humanité, umanité "human nature; humankind, life on earth; pity," from Latin humanitatem (nominative humanitas) "human nature; philanthropy, kindness; good breeding, refinement; the human race, mankind," from humanus (see human). Sense of "human nature, human form" is c. 1400; that of "human race" first recorded mid-15c.
- humanize (v.)
- c. 1600, from human + -ize. Related: Humanized; humanizing.
- humankind (n.)
- 1640s, properly two words, from human + kind (n.).
- humanly (adv.)
- c. 1500, from human + -ly (2).
- 1912 (adj.), an anthropological hybrid from human + -oid. As a noun, from 1925. Earlier (1906) brand name of a type of cow's milk altered to be closer to human milk intended as food for infants.
- humble (adj.)
- mid-13c., from Old French humble, earlier humele, from Latin humilis "lowly, humble," literally "on the ground," from humus "earth." Senses of "not self-asserting" and "of low birth or rank" were both in Middle English Related: Humbly; humbleness.
Don't be so humble; you're not that great. [Golda Meir]To eat humble pie (1830) is from umble pie (1640s), pie made from umbles "edible inner parts of an animal" (especially deer), considered a low-class food. The similar sense of similar-sounding words (the "h" of humble was not pronounced then) converged in the pun. Umbles, meanwhile, is Middle English numbles "offal" (with loss of n- through assimilation into preceding article).
- humble (v.)
- late 14c. in the intransitive sense of "to render oneself humble;" late 15c. in the transitive sense of "to lower (someone) in dignity;" see humble (adj.). Related: Humbled; humbling.
- humbug (n.)
- 1751, student slang, "trick, jest, hoax, deception," also as a verb, of unknown origin. A vogue word of the early 1750s; its origin was a subject of much whimsical speculation even then.
- humdinger (n.)
- 1905, American English, originally used of beautiful women; probably from dinger, early 19c. slang word for anything superlative; also see hummer.
- humeral (adj.)
- 1610s; see humerus + -al (1).
- humerus (n.)
- 1706, "bone of the upper arm," originally (14c.) "shoulder," a misspelled borrowing of Latin umerus "shoulder," from PIE *om(e)so- (cognates: Sanskrit amsah, Greek omos, Old Norse ass, Gothic ams "shoulder").
- humid (adj.)
- early 15c., from Old French humide or directly from Latin humidus "moist, wet," variant (probably by influence of humus "earth") of umidus, from umere "be moist," from PIE *wegw- "wet."
- humidifier (n.)
- 1884, agent noun from humidify.
- humidify (v.)
- 1884; see humid + -fy. Related: Humidified; humidifying. Earlier was humify (1650s).
- humidity (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French humidité, from Latin humiditatem (nominative humiditas), from humidus (see humid).
- humidor (n.)
- 1903, from humid on model of cuspidor.
- humiliate (v.)
- 1530s, perhaps a back-formation from humiliation. Related: Humiliated; humiliating; humiliatingly.
- humiliation (n.)
- late 14c., from Late Latin humiliationem (nominative humiliatio) "humbling, humiliation," noun of action from past participle stem of humiliare "to humble," from humilis "humble" (see humble).
- humility (n.)
- early 14c., from Old French umelite "humility, modesty, sweetness," from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) "lowness, insignificance," in Church Latin "meekness," from humilis "humble" (see humble). In the Mercian hymns, Latin humilitatem is glossed by Old English eaðmodnisse.
- hummer (n.)
- c. 1600, agent noun from hum (v.). Meaning "energetic person or thing" is 1680s; that of "excellent person or thing" is slang from 1907. As short for Humvee, attested from 1983.
- hummock (n.)
- "knoll, hillock," 1550s, originally nautical, "conical small hill on a seacoast," of obscure origin, though second element is diminutive suffix -ock. In Florida, where the local form is hammock, it means a clump of hardwood trees on a knoll in a swamp or on a key.
- hummus (n.)
- 1955, from Turkish humus "mashed chick peas."
- humongous (adj.)
- also humungous, by 1972, American English, apparently a fanciful coinage from huge and monstrous.
- humor (n.)
- mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour (Old French humor; Modern French humeur), from Latin umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false association with humus "earth"); related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet," from PIE *wegw- "wet."
In ancient and medieval physiology, "any of the four body fluids" (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black bile) whose relative proportions were thought to determine state of mind. This led to a sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (first recorded 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge," first attested 1580s. "The pronunciation of the initial h is only of recent date, and is sometimes omitted ...." [OED] For types of humor, see the useful table below, from H.W. Fowler ["Modern English Usage," 1926].
||words & ideas
||morals & manners
||faults & foibles
||statement of facts
||exposure of nakedness
||victim & bystander
||an inner circle
- humor (v.)
- 1580s; see humor (n.). Related: Humored; humoring.
- humoral (adj.)
- "pertaining to the humors of the body," 1520s, from Middle French humoral (14c.), from Latin humor (see humor (n.)).
- humorist (n.)
- 1590s, from humor (n.) + -ist. Perhaps on model of Middle French humoriste.
- humorous (adj.)
- early 15c., "relating to the body humors," a native formation from humor, or else from Middle French humoreux "damp," from Old French humor (see humor (n.)). The meaning "funny" dates from 1705 in English. Related: Humorously; humorousness.
- chiefly British English spelling of humor; see -or. Related: Humourous; humourist.
- hump (n.)
- 1680s (in hump-backed), from Dutch homp "lump," from Middle Low German hump "bump," from Proto-Germanic *hump-, from PIE *kemb- "to bend, turn, change, exchange." Replaced, or perhaps influenced by, crump, from Old English crump. A meaning attested from 1901 is "mound in a railway yard over which cars must be pushed," which may be behind the figurative sense of "critical point of an undertaking" (1914). Humpback whale is from 1725.
- hump (v.)
- "to do the sex act with," attested from 1785, but the source of this indicates it is an older word. Meaning "to raise into a hump" is from 1840. Related: Humped; humping.
- as a grunting sound of disdain, etc., from 1815.
- masc. proper name, from Old English Hunfrið, probably from Proto-Germanic *hun "strength" + Old English frið "peace." To dine with Duke Humphrey (17c.) meant to go without a meal, though the reason for the expression now is obscure.
- from French nursery rhyme hero (the rhyme first attested in English 1810), earlier "a short, clumsy person of either sex" (1785), probably a reduplication of Humpty, a pet form of Humphrey. Originally, humpty-dumpty was a drink (1690s), "ale boiled with brandy," probably from hump and dump, but the connection is obscure and there might not be one.
'It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said, ... 'to be called an egg -- very!' ["Through the Looking-Glass," 1872]
- humus (n.)
- 1796, from Latin humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE *dhghem- "earth" (source also of Latin humilis "low;" see chthonic). Related: Humous (adj.).
- humvee (n.)
- 1983, popularized 1991 in Persian Gulf War military slang, rough acronym for high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.
- Old English, person from a tribe from central Asia that overran Europe in the 4c. and 5c., from Medieval Latin Hunni, apparently ultimately from Turkic Hun-yü, the name of a tribe (they were known in China as Han or Hiong-nu). Figurative sense of "reckless destroyer of beauty" is from 1806. Applied to the German in World War I by their enemies because of stories of atrocities, but the nickname originally was urged on German soldiers bound for China by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900, which caused a scandal.
- Chinese province, literally "south of the lake" (Lake Dongting), from hu "lake" + nan "south."
- originally (c. 1500) a verb, "to push, thrust," of unknown origin. Meaning "raise or bend into a hump" is 1670s. Perhaps a variant of bunch. The noun is attested from 1620s, originally "a push, thrust." Figurative sense of "hint, tip" (a "push" toward a solution or answer), first recorded 1849, led to that of "premonition, presentiment" (1904).
- hunchback (n.)
- "person with a hunched back," 1712, back-formation from hunchbacked (1590s; see hunch).
- hundred (n.)
- Old English hundred "the number of 100, a counting of 100," from Proto-Germanic *hundrath (cognates: Old Norse hundrað, German hundert); first element is Proto-Germanic *hundam "hundred" (cognate with Gothic hund, Old High German hunt), from PIE *km-tom "hundred," reduced from *dkm-tom- (cognates: Sanskrit satam, Avestan satem, Greek hekaton, Latin centum, Lithuanian simtas, Old Church Slavonic suto, Old Irish cet, Breton kant "hundred"), from *dekm- "ten" (see ten).
Second element is Proto-Germanic *rath "reckoning, number" (as in Gothic raþjo "a reckoning, account, number," garaþjan "to count;" see read (v.)). The common word for the number in Old English was simple hund, and Old English also used hund-teontig.
In Old Norse hundrath meant 120, that is the long hundred of six score, and at a later date, when both the six-score hundred and the five-score hundred were in use, the old or long hundred was styled hundrath tolf-roett ... meaning "duodecimal hundred," and the new or short hundred was called hundrath ti-rætt, meaning "decimal hundred." "The Long Hundred and its use in England" was discussed by Mr W.H. Stevenson, in 1889, in the Archcæological Review (iv. 313-27), where he stated that amongst the Teutons, who longest preserved their native customs unimpaired by the influence of Latin Christianity, the hundred was generally the six-score hundred. The short hundred was introduced among the Northmen in the train of Christianity. ["Transactions" of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1907]
Meaning "division of a county or shire with its own court" (still in some British place names and U.S. state of Delaware) was in Old English and probably represents 100 hides of land. The Hundred Years War (which ran intermittently from 1337 to 1453) was first so called in 1874. The original Hundred Days was the period between Napoleon's restoration and his final abdication in 1815.