hu·​man·​ize ˈhyü-mə-ˌnīz How to pronounce humanize (audio) ˈyü- How to pronounce humanize (audio)
variants also British humanise
humanized; humanizing; humanizes

transitive verb

: to represent (something) as human : to attribute human qualities to (something)
Much as we try, we can't stop humanizing our horses.Jeffrey Kluger
: to address or portray (someone) in a way that emphasizes that person's humanity or individuality
My goal, long before my father ever became homeless, was to humanize those who lived on the streets.Diana Kim
: to include or increase human interaction in (something, such as a process or place)
[Stan] Lowe said he's proud of the increased use of alternative-dispute resolution for the type of complaint that can be informally resolved between an officer and a member of the public. … "It humanizes the experience from both perspectives. It really does repair a relationship, but you're doing it one relationship at a time."Louise Dickson
: to adapt (something) to human nature or use
In this period of rapid change, the city began putting money back into the neighborhood. Over time, there was a conscious effort to invest in humanizing the landscape, including the reinstallation of the now-famous seven steel arches and street trees.Kaylee Harter and Shanti Lerner
The fact is, cats play different predatory roles in different natural and humanized landscapes.William S. Lynn
: to make (something) humane : soften, civilize
Lincoln forged a new lean language to humanize and redeem the first modern war.Gary Wills
: to cause (a nonhuman organism or one of its parts) to include components (such as cells, tissues, or genes) of human origin or to produce human substances or components (such as insulin)
It's OK to mess with a creature's "simple" parts—the plumbing in its gut, let's say—but we're risking moral crisis when we start to humanize its neural tissue.Daniel Engber
But other forms of humanized mice, such as mice engineered to have a human immune system, are routine laboratory animals that seem to occasion little angst.Nicholas Wade
These "humanized" cells were then removed and cloned with tumor cells to make a cell line that produced pure human monoclonal antibodies, the researchers said.Warren E. Leary
: to modify (a nonhuman antibody) by genetic engineering to contain mainly human protein sequences
Monoclonals are made by cultivating antibody-producing cells in the immune system of mice, extracting them from the animals' spleen, and then going through an elaborate process to "humanize" the antibodies to avoid immune reactions in human patients.Gary Stix
We're using mice to make humanized antibodies that produce cancer drugs.William Saletan
humanization noun
humanizer noun

Examples of humanize in a Sentence

The new publicity has helped to humanize the corporation's image. They promised to humanize conditions at the company.
Recent Examples on the Web If Hamas meant to humanize its fighters to audiences in Israel or the West, the video was stunningly counterproductive. David D. Kirkpatrick, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 Both these shows humanize the Palestinian experience in ways that feel new. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, 26 Oct. 2023 This approach humanizes history by allowing readers to better appreciate the people who made it and the considerations that influenced their actions. Peter Englund, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 That car journey back to the village, gives Hamaguchi time to humanize the two bantering agents, who are in way over their heads. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Sep. 2023 Indeed, wisecracking is almost as central to her practice as outrage; both are age-old responses to oppression, and the former helps humanize the latter in her work. Alice Newell-Hanson Sean Donnola, New York Times, 9 Aug. 2023 Directed by Logan Vaughn, the play is a moving body of work that actively seeks to humanize the realities of living with HIV, taking the audience on an immersive journey through the lives of its characters. Shelby Stewart, Essence, 17 Oct. 2023 Their fossilized ancient footprints found at White Sands National Park humanize them, revealing the actions of their lives in ways that static bones and stone tools cannot. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Oct. 2023 Being honest about your feelings of rejection can humanize and normalize your kid’s experience. Sahaj Kaur Kohli, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'humanize.' 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

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of humanize was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near humanize

Cite this Entry

“Humanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hu·​man·​ize ˈhyü-mə-ˌnīz How to pronounce humanize (audio)
humanized; humanizing
: to make suitable for human nature or use
: to make humane : civilize, refine
humanization noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
variants also British humanise
humanized also British humanised; humanizing also British humanising
: to cause (a nonhuman organism or one of its parts) to include a component (as cells, tissues, or genes) of human origin or to produce human substances or components (as insulin)
Previous attempts at "humanizing" mouse livers have taken weeks or months for the human liver cells to latch onto and expand in the mouse liver, the NIH [National Institutes of Health] reports.Howard Lovy, FierceBiotech
"Humanized" mice with human blood-producing stem cells …Tina Hesman Saey, Science News
: to modify (a nonhuman antibody) by genetic engineering to contain mainly human protein sequences
… it is important to humanize these antibodies for human therapeutic purposes without impacting their binding affinity towards antigen targets.Vinh Dang et al., Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Dr. Joe Conner, a scientist with Viragen who conducted the experiments, explained that "humanizing an antibody requires removing most of the non-human regions of the protein by genetic engineering and replacing them with equivalent human components."Anthony J. Brown, Reuters Health Medical News
Trastuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody whose antigen-binding domain Fab recognizes a tyrosine kinase receptor … that is overexpressed in some breast cancers, and its anticancer activity is thought to involve disruption of cell proliferation signaling through this receptor.Science
humanization noun
also British humanisation
The progressive humanization of antibodies is another success story that has enabled these versatile and exquisitely selective proteins to progress into largescale therapeutics. Michiel E. Ultee, Biopharm International

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