de·​hu·​man·​ize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈ(h)yü-mə-ˌnīz How to pronounce dehumanize (audio) \
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 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
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

Other Words from dehumanize

dehumanization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌ(h)yü-​mə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce dehumanize (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for dehumanize


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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 As our country becomes more diverse, there are those who are perpetuating our country’s violent history, trying to dehumanize Black and brown people as a means to protect the white supremacist origins of the power that begot our country’s founding. The Opportunity Agenda, Forbes, 1 June 2022 In society, victims often belong to minority groups, emboldening those who scapegoat to disrespect and dehumanize them with less fear of repercussions. Katherine Kam, Washington Post, 19 July 2022 Some critics of the robots, however, argue the products dehumanize senior citizens and allow younger people to ignore their elders. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 25 May 2022 As the number of assaults on Asian Americans rises, these heinous incidents have dredged up painful stereotypes used to demean and dehumanize Asian American women like me. Anne Chow, Fortune, 25 Apr. 2022 There is an ugly tendency to dehumanize one another in thoughtless, mean-spirited ways. David D. Haynes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Feb. 2022 By imbuing their creations with specificity, emotions and dignity, Black dollmakers resisted a racist culture that sought to dehumanize Black people—and made an argument for their own humanity and that of their children. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2022 Their acute talk, contextualized by the haunting archival footage, vividly restored, of Payne’s limp body carried on a stretcher, thematically recalls the child’s shackles, or how white supremacists dehumanize Black people from womb to tomb. Robert Daniels, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2022 The slur has roots in the 19th century and was largely used to dehumanize Chinese immigrant laborers and merchants. NBC News, 16 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dehumanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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