From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


Origin: L. Humanitas: cf. F. Humanite. 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. (Wordsworth) 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. (Holland)

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

The cultivation of the languages, literature, history, and archaeology of Greece and Rome, were very commonly called literae humaniores, or, in english, the humanities, . . . By way of opposition to the literae divinae, or divinity.