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

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Other Words from dehumanize

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

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 The people who are most essential, who play the most fundamentally human role at the moment, medical staff and first responders, are dehumanized behind blue gowns and white masks. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "Trump speaks of images he’s ‘never seen before.’ But they’ve existed — we just refused to look.," 10 Apr. 2020 This population never receives that security and is dehumanized in the process. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 1 candidates explain their plan to help the city recover from the coronavirus pandemic," 24 Apr. 2020 Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric is one more ingredient to potentially make America a more hostile place. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Donald Trump and the disturbing power of dehumanizing language," 14 Aug. 2018 Purchasing a new-season piece is as easy as click-click-checkout – enabled further by next-day delivery – but a growing number of women are rallying against this dehumanized and detached fashion model. Georgia Murray,, "3 Women On The Joy Of Making Your Own Clothes," 6 Apr. 2020 An altercation with police caught on camera further sustains Muhammad’s stance against biased law enforcement with unchecked privileges to dehumanize. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?’ relays African American anger," 5 Sep. 2019 One is a degrading slur meant to dehumanize the target; the other is a metaphor with unflattering connotations. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "CNN’s Chris Cuomo said “Fredo” is like “the n-word” for Italians. It’s … not.," 13 Aug. 2019 Higher courts have deemed it improper to vouch for a witness’s credibility, attempt to put jurors in his or her shoes, or to use language that dehumanizes the accused. Deanna Paul, WSJ, "Harvey Weinstein Attorneys Paving Way for Possible Appeal," 6 Feb. 2020 Toxic political rhetoric and attacks directed at groups of peoples — using language to dehumanize them — that were once considered taboo have become common across the world’s democracies. Marc Santora,, "75 years after Auschwitz liberation, fear that ‘never again’ is not assured," 25 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of dehumanize

1818, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of dehumanize was in 1818

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Last Updated

4 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dehumanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce dehumanize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dehumanize

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

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