humanity (n.) Look up humanity at
late 14c., "kindness, graciousness, politeness; consideration for others," from Old French humanité, umanité "human nature; humankind, life on earth; pity," from Latin humanitatem (nominative humanitas) "human nature; the human race, mankind;" also "humane conduct, philanthropy, kindness; good breeding, refinement," from humanus (see human (adj.)). Sense of "human nature, human form, state or quality of being human" is c. 1400; that of "human race, humans collectively" first recorded mid-15c.
humanization (n.) Look up humanization at
1753, noun of action from humanize.
humanize (v.) Look up humanize at
c. 1600, "make or render human," from human (adj.) + -ize. Meaning "civilize, make humane" is from 1640s. Related: Humanized; humanizing. Humanify "make human" is recorded from 1620s.
humankind (n.) Look up humankind at
"the human species," 1640s, from human + kind (n.). Originally two words. Middle English had humaigne lynage "humankind" (mid-15c.).
humanly (adv.) Look up humanly at
c. 1500, "humanely, courteously, kindly," from human (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "in a human manner" is from 1610s; meaning "within the range of human experience or power" is from 1580s.
humanness (n.) Look up humanness at
1727, from human (adj.) + -ness.
humanoid (adj.) Look up humanoid at
1912, an anthropological hybrid from human (adj.) + -oid. The earlier adjective was humaniform (1540s). As a noun, "humanoid being," 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.) Look up humble at
late 13c., of persons, "submissive, respectful, lowly in manner, modest, not self-asserting, obedient," from Old French humble, umble, earlier umele, from Latin humilis "lowly, humble," literally "on the ground," from humus "earth," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth" (see chthonic. From late 14c., of things, "lowly in kind, state, condition, or amount," also "of low birth or rank." Related: Humbly.
Don't be so humble; you're not that great. [Golda Meir]
humble (v.) Look up humble at
late 14c., "render oneself humble" (intrans.), also "to bend, kneel or bow;" late 15c. "lower (someone) in dignity" (trans.); see humble (adj.). Related: Humbled; humbling.
humble pie (n.) Look up humble pie at
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 (adj.) was not then pronounced) converged to make the pun. Umbles is Middle English numbles "offal," with loss of n- through assimilation into preceding article.
humble-bee (n.) Look up humble-bee at
"bumble-bee," mid-15c. but suspected to be older, from humble (late 14c.), frequentative of hum (v.). + bee (n.1). Compare bumble-bee.
humbleness (n.) Look up humbleness at
late 14c., from humble (adj.) + -ness. Wyclif's word; Chaucer uses the Frenchified humblesse.
humbug (n.) Look up humbug at
1751, student slang, "trick, jest, hoax, imposition, deception," of unknown origin. Also appearing as a verb at the same time, "deceive by false pretext" (trans.). A vogue word of the early 1750s; its origin was a subject of much whimsical speculation even then. "[A]s with other and more recent words of similar introduction, the facts as to its origin appear to have been lost, even before the word became common enough to excite attention" [OED]. Meaning "spirit of deception or imposition; hollowness, sham" is from 1825.
humbuggery (n.) Look up humbuggery at
1831, from humbug + -ery.
humdinger (n.) Look up humdinger at
1905, American English, originally used of beautiful women; probably from dinger, early 19c. slang word for anything superlative; also see hummer.
humdrum (adj.) Look up humdrum at
"routine, monotonous, dull, commonplace," 1550s, probably a reduplication of hum. As a noun, "monotony, tediousness," from 1727; earlier it meant "dull person" (1590s).
humeral (adj.) Look up humeral at
1610s; see humerus + -al (1).
humero- Look up humero- at
word-forming element meaning "of the shoulder and," from Latin humerus "shoulder" (see humerus).
humerus (n.) Look up humerus at
1706, "bone of the upper arm," originally (14c.) "shoulder," from Latin humerus, a common spelling of umerus "shoulder," from PIE *om(e)so- "shoulder" (cognates: Sanskrit amsah, Greek omos, Old Norse ass, Gothic ams "shoulder"). Blount's "Glossographia" (1656) has humerous (adj.) "That hath great shoulders."
humid (adj.) Look up humid at
early 15c., from Old French humide, umide "damp, wet" (15c.) or directly from Latin humidus "moist, wet," variant (probably by influence of humus "earth") of umidus, from umere "be moist, be wet," from Proto-Italic *umo- "wet" (also source of Latin umidus "wet, moist," umiditas "moisture," umor "moisture, fluid," umectus "moist, wet"), perhaps from PIE *uhrmo- "wet," from the same source as Latin urina [de Vaan].
humidifier (n.) Look up humidifier at
1884, agent noun from humidify.
humidify (v.) Look up humidify at
1898; see humid + -fy. Related: Humidified; humidifying; humidification. Earlier was humify (1650s).
humidity (n.) Look up humidity at
late 14c., "state or quality of being humid," from Old French humidité, umidité "dampness, humidity," from Latin humiditatem (nominative humiditas), from humidus "moist, wet" (see humid). In meteorology, "a measure of moisture in the air compared with the amount required to saturate it under current conditions (relative humidity), from 1820.
humidor (n.) Look up humidor at
1903, from humid on model of cuspidor.
humiliate (v.) Look up humiliate at
1530s, a back-formation from humiliation or else from Late Latin humiliatus. Earlier was humily "humble oneself" (mid-15c.), from Old French humilier. Related: Humiliated.
humiliating (adj.) Look up humiliating at
1757, present participle adjective from humiliate (v.). Related: Humiliatingly.
humiliation (n.) Look up humiliation at
late 14c., from Old French humiliacion (14c.) or directly from Late Latin humiliationem (nominative humiliatio) "humbling, humiliation," noun of action from past participle stem of humiliare "to humble," from humilis "humble" (see humble (adj.)).
humility (n.) Look up humility at
early 14c., "quality of being humble," from Old French umelite "humility, modesty, sweetness" (Modern French humilité), from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) "lowness, small stature; insignificance; baseness, littleness of mind," in Church Latin "meekness," from humilis "humble" (see humble (adj.)). In the Mercian hymns, Latin humilitatem is glossed by Old English eaðmodnisse.
hummable (adj.) Look up hummable at
1910, from hum (v.) + -able. Related: Hummably; hummability.
hummer (n.) Look up hummer at
c. 1600, of insects, 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.
humming (adj.) Look up humming at
1570s, "that hums," present participle adjective from hum (v.). Meaning "brisk, vigorous, energetic" is from 1680s. Related: Hummingly. Humming-bird (1630s) so called from sound made by the rapid vibration of its wings.
There is a curious bird to see to, called a humming bird, no bigger then a great Beetle. [Thomas Morton, "New English Canaan," 1637]
hummock (n.) Look up hummock at
"knoll, hillock," 1550s, originally nautical, "conical small hill on a seacoast," of obscure origin, though second element probably is the 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. Related: Hummocky.
hummus (n.) Look up hummus at
Middle Eastern dish, 1955, from Turkish humus "mashed chick peas."
humongous (adj.) Look up humongous at
also humungous, by 1972, American English, apparently a fanciful mash-up of huge and monstrous.
humor (n.) Look up humor at
mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour "liquid, dampness; (medical) humor" (Old French humor, umor; 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" (see humid).

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 physical condition and state of mind. This led to a sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (first recorded 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness, jocular turn of mind" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" as determined by state of mind (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge (someone's) fancy or disposition." Modern French has them as doublets: humeur "disposition, mood, whim;" humour "humor." "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].

motive/aim discovery throwing light amendment inflicting pain discredit exclusiveness self-justification self-relief
province human nature words & ideas morals & manners faults & foibles misconduct statement of facts morals adversity
method/means observation surprise accentuation inversion direct statement mystification exposure of nakedness pessimism
audience the sympathetic the intelligent the self-satisfied victim & bystander the public an inner circle the respectable the self
humor (v.) Look up humor at
1580s, "comply with (someone's) fancy or disposition;" see humor (n.). Related: Humored; humoring.
humoral (adj.) Look up humoral at
"pertaining to the humors of the body," 1540s, from Middle French humoral (14c.), from Latin humor (see humor (n.)).
humorist (n.) Look up humorist at
1590s, "person with the ability to entertain by comical fancy, humorous talker or writer," also "person who acts according to his humors" (obsolete), from humor (n.) + -ist. Perhaps on model of Middle French humoriste.
humorless (adj.) Look up humorless at
1838, from humor (n.) + -less. Related: Humorlessly; humorlessness.
humorous (adj.) Look up humorous at
early 15c., "relating to the body humors," a native formation from humor (n.), or else from Middle French humoreux "damp," from Old French humor. In Shakespeare also "whimsical, full of fancies" (1580s); "ill-humored, peevish, moody" (c. 1600). The meaning "funny, exciting laughter" dates from 1705 in English. Related: Humorously; humorousness.
humour Look up humour at
chiefly British English spelling of humor; see -or. Related: Humourous; humourously; humourist; humourless, etc.
hump (n.) Look up hump at
1680s (in hump-backed), of uncertain origin; perhaps from Dutch homp "lump," from Middle Low German hump "bump," from Proto-Germanic *hump-, from PIE *kemb- "to bend, turn, change, exchange" (see change (v.)). 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 might be behind the figurative sense of "critical point of an undertaking" (1914).
hump (v.) Look up hump at
"to bend or raise into a hump," 1840, from hump (n.). Meaning "do the sex act with" is attested from 1785, but the source indicates it is an older word. Related: Humped; humper; humping.
humpback (adj.) Look up humpback at
also hump-back, 1690s, from hump (n.) + back (n.). As a noun from 1709. Humpback whale is from 1725.
humph (interj.) Look up humph at
as a grunting sound of disdain, etc., from 1815. Humh is from c. 1600.
Humphrey Look up Humphrey at
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.
Humpty-dumpty (n.) Look up Humpty-dumpty at
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.) Look up humus at
"vegetable mould," 1796, from Latin humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth" (source also of Latin humilis "low;" see chthonic). Related: Humous (adj.).
humvee (n.) Look up humvee at
1983, popularized 1991 in Persian Gulf War military slang, rough acronym for high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.
Hun (n.) Look up Hun at
person from a tribe from central Asia that overran Europe in the 4c. and 5c., Old English Hunas (plural), 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. Related: Hunnic; Hunnish.