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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Humanity \Hu*man"i*ty\, n.; pl. Humanities. [L. humanitas: cf. F. humanit['e]. See Human.]

  1. The quality of being human; the peculiar nature of man, by which he is distinguished from other beings.

  2. Mankind collectively; the human race.

    But hearing oftentimes The still, and music humanity.

    It is a debt we owe to humanity.
    --S. S. Smith.

  3. The quality of being humane; the kind feelings, dispositions, and sympathies of man; especially, a disposition to relieve persons or animals in distress, and to treat all creatures with kindness and tenderness. ``The common offices of humanity and friendship.''

  4. Mental cultivation; liberal education; instruction in classical and polite literature.

    Polished with humanity and the study of witty science.

  5. pl. (With definite article) The branches of polite or elegant learning; as language, rhetoric, poetry, and the ancient classics; belles-letters.

    Note: The cultivation of the languages, literature, history, and arch[ae]ology of Greece and Rome, were very commonly called liter[ae] humaniores, or, in English, the humanities, . . . by way of opposition to the liter[ae] divin[ae], or divinity.
    --G. P. Marsh.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.


n. 1 (plural of humanity English) 2 the branch of learning that includes the arts, classics, philosophy and history etc., but not the sciences


n. studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills); "the college of arts and sciences" [syn: humanistic discipline, liberal arts, arts]


Humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture. In the Middle Ages, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, physical and sometimes social sciences as well as professional training.

The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, art and musicology.

Scholars in the humanities are "humanity scholars" or humanists. The term "humanist" also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some " antihumanist" scholars in the humanities refuse. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes [almost across all modern legal systems], usually consisting of English literature, global studies and art.

Human disciplines like history and cultural anthropology study subject matters that the experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method and comparative research.

Usage examples of "humanities".

Within the ship, of course, sensors are calibrated to edit out the slight strangeness of the other-universal starlight, that all the humanities find so unsettling.

This was impossible and she knew it, for to the na'mdeihei, the physical world in which the humanities moved was a dream they could not touch.

Yet all the delicacy did not prevent the home of the humanities from burning fiercely in the dark.

Not one that any of our humanities would recognize as its own God, however.

In all the Universe he could think of nothing better to give, nothing more worth being remembered when he and all the humanities and the Galaxy itself were merely old stories.

I wanted to see if They really had that much divinity-or what the humanities take for divinity-in Them.

Indeed, such was his charismatic eloquence that many of the hundreds who entered Humanities 2 in September as philistines emerged by Christmas as passionate philhellenes.

As a reward he was made a teaching fellow in Finley's Humanities course.

The paisanos paid no attention to him until at last Jesus Maria, that prey to the humanities, untied Big Joe’s thumbs and gave him a jar of wine.

As it was, his string of D-minuses had led him here, to the sub-sub-basement of the Humanities Building.

Wondering if he truly had reached the Humanities building's lowest level, James glanced about, searching for another set of stairs leading still further into the earth.

He heaved it open, and stepped out into the quad in front of the Humanities building.

She smiled at him in the moonlight, as they passed between the shadows of the long, low administration Building on the north and the long, low humanities building on the south, and suddenly her face was transformed in a miracle of beauty.

When they left the humanities building, the students who had been facing the administration building when the light bomb exploded were beginning to regain their sight, and the machine gun in the administration building had started up again.

In the humanities, however, the crash is past, the depression has set in, and the collapse of science is all but complete.