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

Definition of humanize

transitive verb

1a : to represent (something) as human : to attribute human qualities to (something) Much as we try, we can't stop humanizing our horses.— Jeffrey Kluger
b : 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
c(1) : 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
(2) : 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
2 : to make (something) humane : soften, civilize Lincoln forged a new lean language to humanize and redeem the first modern war.— Gary Wills
3a : 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
b : 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

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Other Words from humanize

humanization \ ˌhyü-​mə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce humanize (audio) , ˌyü-​ \ 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 Critics argue that Musk’s SNL appearance will likely humanize the billionaire, in the way that Trump’s hosting gig seemed to soften his public image. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, "Can Elon Musk Fill The Trump-Shaped Hole In ‘SNL’?," 7 May 2021 Quinn and others were trying to humanize, not lionize, early Latter-day Saints and provide context for the religion’s troubling episodes. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Historian D. Michael Quinn, who was booted from the LDS Church as part of the ‘September Six’ but remained a believer, dies at 77," 22 Apr. 2021 Philonise Floyd offered a heartfelt testimony as prosecutors sought to humanize Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died last May after Chauvin kneeled on his neck and back for more than 9 minutes. Melissa Macaya, CNN, "Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death," 13 Apr. 2021 His testimony at Chauvin's murder trial was part of an effort by prosecutors to humanize George Floyd in front of the jury and make the 46-year-old Black man more than a crime statistic. Amy Forliti, Star Tribune, "Expert: Chauvin did not take actions of 'reasonable officer'," 12 Apr. 2021 That blame-shifting perspective is baked into the standard strategy for defending cops on trial: humanize the officers, dehumanize the victims ... and people who look like them, if need be. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Derek Chauvin’s race-baiting defense is rooted in centuries-old stereotypes," 3 Apr. 2021 Her testimony was designed not only to humanize Floyd but to contrast the defense narrative of him as out-of-control and dangerous. Washington Post, "Chauvin also failed to immediately tell a supervisor he had knelt on Floyd’s neck, the sergeant said during the fourth day of testimony in the former officer’s murder trial," 1 Apr. 2021 Tina Wyatt, Harriet Tubman's great-great-great-grandniece and Ben Ross's great-great-great-great-granddaughter, said the discoveries have helped humanize them and gave her a deeper connection to her family. Mitchell Mccluskey And David Williams, CNN, "Archaeologists find Maryland site of home where Harriet Tubman's father once lived," 20 Apr. 2021 His testimony at Chauvin’s murder trial was part of an effort by prosecutors to humanize George Floyd in front of the jury and make the 46-year-old Black man more than a crime statistic. Amy Forliti, Anchorage Daily News, "Expert witness in George Floyd murder trial: ‘No reasonable officer’ would have acted as Derek Chauvin did," 13 Apr. 2021

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

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for humanize

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The first known use of humanize was in 1603

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Statistics for humanize

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Humanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for humanize



English Language Learners Definition of humanize

: to make (someone or something) seem gentler, kinder, or more appealing to people


transitive verb
variants: also British humanise \ ˈhyü-​mə-​ˌnīz How to pronounce humanize (audio) , ˈyü-​ How to pronounce humanize (audio) \
humanized also British humanised; humanizing also British humanising

Medical Definition of humanize

1 : 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
2 : 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

Other Words from humanize

humanization also British humanisation \ ˌhyü-​mə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce humanize (audio) , ˌyü-​ How to pronounce humanize (audio) \ noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on humanize

Nglish: Translation of humanize for Spanish Speakers

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