de·​hu·​man·​ize (ˌ)dē-ˈ(h)yü-mə-ˌnīz How to pronounce dehumanize (audio)
dehumanized; dehumanizing; dehumanizes

transitive verb

: to deprive (someone or something) of human qualities, personality, or dignity: such as
: to subject (someone, such as a prisoner) to inhuman or degrading conditions or treatment
"… 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
: 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
: 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

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 Many of these institutions remain ill-equipped to handle such a task, and the burden often falls on prison staff and health care personnel who struggle with the dual roles of jailer and caregiver in a high-stress, dangerous, often dehumanizing environment. Glenn Thrush Carlos Javier Ortiz, New York Times, 5 May 2024 The statements that came from the prime minister of Israel, the president of Israel, the ministers of Israel, key leaders of Israel, dehumanizing the Palestinians and calling for genocide of the Palestinians. Dana Taylor, USA TODAY, 5 May 2024 The alleged hazing Starting from the beginning of April, Tran alleged a series of incidents in which fraternity members dehumanized and humiliated students. Ishani Desai, Sacramento Bee, 18 Apr. 2024 On the evidence of this savage industry satire, the experience was souring, dehumanizing and debauching. Matt Brennan, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2024 Germany's Nazi dictator used similar language to dehumanize Jews and justify the genocide of millions during the Holocaust. Lauren Villagran, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2024 Many Republicans have adopted Donald Trump’s hostility toward the country, regurgitating Russian propaganda that vilifies and dehumanizes Ukrainian citizens. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2024 Jens-Christian Wagner, the director of the Buchenwald Memorial foundation, said at the conference that the lampshade’s production and gift-like function showed how dehumanized the Nazi SS soldiers were. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 22 Mar. 2024 Many of the bizarre and outlandish conspiracies that have been recently thrown around with little regard dehumanized her. Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN, 23 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dehumanize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dehumanize was in 1818

Dictionary Entries Near dehumanize

Cite this Entry

“Dehumanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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