hu·​man·​ism | \ ˈhyü-mə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce humanism (audio) , ˈyü- \

Definition of humanism

1a : devotion to the humanities : literary culture
b : the revival of classical letters, individualistic and critical spirit, and emphasis on secular concerns characteristic of the Renaissance
2 : devotion to human welfare : humanitarianism renowned for his humanism
3 : a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason

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Other Words from humanism

humanist \ ˈhyü-​mə-​nist How to pronounce humanist (audio) , ˈyü-​ \ noun or adjective
humanistic \ ˌhyü-​mə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce humanistic (audio) , ˌyü-​ \ adjective
humanistically \ ˌhyü-​mə-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce humanistically (audio) , ˌyü-​ \ adverb

Examples of humanism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web An atheist Jew who finds truth in agnosticism, humanism, African/Chinese/Native American spirituality. cleveland, "Weekend protests prompt Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to call in National Guard: Capitol Letter," 1 June 2020 But humanism is exactly why, in my view, a classroom with human bodies in it, struggling over the meaning of a short story, works. Because the literary arts are not the same as the study of economics or astrophysics. Rick Moody, The New Yorker, "Humanism vs. Zoom," 6 Apr. 2020 Ward directs every episode and finds moments of religious astonishment alongside gloopy horror, all of it served with chatty humanism and palpable sweetness. Darren Franich,, "The Midnight Gospel is a heartfelt cosmic masterpiece: Review," 7 May 2020 With him now in Portland, is there anyone left in Anchorage that combines his mixture of humanism, flair for the dramatic and quixotic inclinations? David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "How Michael O’Callaghan went from Anchorage activist to Portland’s homeless mayoral candidate," 9 Mar. 2020 Sacks’s original narrative, in the book called Awakenings, is a significant literary achievement, and one that brought new awareness to the role that humanism, as a discipline, could play in the study of neurology. Rick Moody, The New York Review of Books, "‘Three Christs,’ Schizophrenia & Us," 12 Jan. 2020 And so there are moments of levity like that where while things have broken down at a very partisan level on Capitol Hill, there are those moments of kind of humanism that exist as well. NBC News, "Transcript: Grilling the Lawyers," 11 Dec. 2019 For these reasons, a defense of reason, science, and humanism is timely and important. Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "Depressed by the news? Here’s how to alter your worldview," 20 Dec. 2019 His flaw was a lack of patience with his own deeply felt humanism, self-censoring even his love of Beethoven in pursuit of the public good. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Field Guide to Tyranny," 16 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'humanism.' 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 humanism

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for humanism

see human entry 1

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Time Traveler for humanism

Time Traveler

The first known use of humanism was in 1836

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Cite this Entry

“Humanism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for humanism


How to pronounce humanism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of humanism

: a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion

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