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

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 Strater says one of the primary goals of @UFWUpdates is to humanize and to give a voice to the farmworkers. Fidel Martinez, Los Angeles Times, 21 Apr. 2022 Soccer referees in San Francisco are considering delivering introductory speeches before games in an attempt to humanize themselves and draw empathy from spectators. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 The show doesn't shy away from showing its characters as complex or flawed, seeking to humanize them by delivering messages through songs that ooze humor and heart. Andrea Towers,, 7 Apr. 2022 But Wachs and Kramer have felt increasingly emboldened to dive into muddy gray areas, using compassion and intimate, emotional storytelling devices to try and humanize the many faces inside. Tim Greiving, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2022 Your story should help humanize your business and help people build an emotional connection to your products or services. Steve Tan, Forbes, 6 Apr. 2021 The story seeks to truly humanize and create a sense of connection with a part of the world that has frequently been regarded as less than worth of celebration, or even acknowledgement. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Mar. 2022 George Floyd's girlfriend took the stand to humanize him and give depth to his life story. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 13 Dec. 2021 That's why 1-on-1 conversations can be healthier to have during holidays and why sharing personal stories can help humanize an issue. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of humanize

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Learn More About humanize

Time Traveler for humanize

Time Traveler

The first known use of humanize was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near humanize




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for humanize

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Humanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for humanize


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!