de·​hu·​man·​ize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈhyü-mə-ˌnīz How to pronounce dehumanize (audio) , (ˌ)dē-ˈyü-\
dehumanized; dehumanizing; dehumanizes

Definition of dehumanize

transitive verb

: to deprive (someone or something) of human qualities, personality, or dignity: such as
a : to subject (someone, such as a prisoner) to conditions or treatment that are inhuman or degrading "… you treat people with respect, you get respect back. You treat them like animals, you strip search them, you dehumanize them, you lock them up, you don't feed them … you are going to get that back … "— Adelina Iftene
b : to address or portray (someone) in a way that obscures or demeans that person's humanity or individuality propaganda that dehumanizes the enemy I'm always struck by the way language is used to dehumanize others.— Anna Lind-Guzik Treating Chicagoland violence as merely a tally necessarily dehumanizes its victims, but it also obscures so much of the larger story about that violence.— Gene Demby But that approach ignores the fundamental dynamics of racism, which dehumanizes people along crude lines, ignoring any internal distinctions among those with broadly similar looks, treating them all as uniformly suspicious.— Sangay K. Mishra
c : to remove or reduce human involvement or interaction in (something, such as a process or place) Nurses are also fearful that the use of technology will dehumanize patient care.— Laurie A. Huryk Social media dehumanizes personal interactions, taking them out of the dining room, the neighborhood store and workplace and into a nowhere we call cyberspace.— Kay S. Hymowitz "To me, Ms. Cao [Fei] is trying to portray that, even in a dehumanized environment like the automated warehouse, you need that inspiration or that order from up high."— David Barboza

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dehumanize

dehumanization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌhyü-​mə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce dehumanization (audio) , (ˌ)dē-​ˌyü-​ \ noun

Synonyms for dehumanize


animalize, bestialize, brutalize

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of dehumanize in a Sentence

Inspectors have observed terrible factory conditions that dehumanize workers. the dehumanizing nature of torture

Recent Examples on the Web

Black trans women are working to build power, to change the laws that leave them out, and to shift the culture that dehumanizes them. Alicia Garza, Marie Claire, "Trans Women Don’t Want Your Sympathy. They Want to Be Treated as Human Beings.," 24 June 2019 Dodgeball in phys-ed classes teaches students to dehumanize and harm their peers, professors from three Canadian universities said in a presentation this week at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Vancouver. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Dodgeball is a tool of ‘oppression’ used to ‘dehumanize’ others, researchers argue," 7 June 2019 Norman Davey, Centennial Dodgeball — harmless game or dehumanizing torture? Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Praising, criticizing Donald Trump’s tariffs; Dodgeball — harmless game or dehumanizing torture? (6/11/19)," 11 June 2019 People calling you fat, funny, dehumanizing you every step of the way. Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Teen Vogue, ""Shrill," Starring Aidy Bryant, Is a Revolution for Fat Representation," 22 Mar. 2019 But its use doesn’t come without controversy, as critics ask if AI could further dehumanize medicine and erode the doctor-patient relationship. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, "A Doctor’s Prescription for More AI in Medicine," 4 Mar. 2019 Animals, especially simian ones, were historically racialized in popular culture to dehumanize black people. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Prada pulled a collection of figurines that drew comparisons to anti-black caricatures," 14 Dec. 2018 References to African Americans as apes and monkeys have long been invoked to dehumanize them and justify their treatment as second-class citizens. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Republican Ron DeSantis says electing black opponent Andrew Gillum would “monkey this up”," 29 Aug. 2018 Families who enter the U.S. to flee violence and seek protection are criminalized, traumatized, and dehumanized. Alexandra Robbins, Marie Claire, "The Welcome Committee," 15 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dehumanize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dehumanize

1818, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dehumanize

Dictionary Entries near dehumanize

Dehra Dun







Statistics for dehumanize

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dehumanize

The first known use of dehumanize was in 1818

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dehumanize



English Language Learners Definition of dehumanize

: to treat (someone) as though he or she is not a human being

More from Merriam-Webster on dehumanize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dehumanize

Comments on dehumanize

What made you want to look up dehumanize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!