late 14c., "kindness, graciousness, politeness; consideration for others," from Old French humanité, umanité "human nature; humankind, life on earth; pity," from Latin humanitatem (nominative humanitas) "human nature; the human race, mankind;" also "humane conduct, philanthropy, kindness; good breeding, refinement," from humanus (see human (adj.)). The dense of "human nature, human form, state or quality of being human" is c. 1400; that of "human race, humans collectively" is recorded by mid-15c.
1794 in the theological sense, "one who affirms the humanity of Christ but denies his pre-existence and divinity," from human (adj.) + suffix from unitarian, etc. By 1834 as "one who professes the creed that a person's highest duty is to advance the welfare of the human race," but the closely allied sense "philanthropist, one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems" (1842), originally was disparaging, with a suggestion of excess. Compare humanism.
As an adjective by 1834 in the theological sense "affirming the humanity or human nature of Christ;" by 1855 as "having regard for the broad interests of humanity."
along with humanist used in a variety of philosophical and theological senses 16c.-18c., especially ones concerned with the (mere) humanity of Christ, or imitating Latin humanitas "education befitting a cultivated man." See human (adj.) + -ism. In the sense "the doctrine or science of human nature," humanics (1864) has been used.
From 1832 in reference to "intelligent study and appreciation of the classics," especially in reference to the Renaissance. By 1847 in reference to "system or mode of thought in which human interests predominate" (originally often in the writings of its enemies). As a pragmatic system of thought, defined 1907 by co-founder F.C.S. Schiller as "The perception that the philosophical problem concerns human beings striving to comprehend a world of human experience by the resources of human minds."
1580s, "student of the classical humanities, one accomplished in literature and classical culture," from French humaniste (16c.), formed on model of Italian umanista "student of human affairs or human nature," coined by Italian poet Lodovicio Ariosto (1474-1533), from Latin humanus "human" (see human (adj.).
In this use, the original notion appears to be "human" as opposed to "divine," that is, a student of the human achievements of the pre-Christian authors and philosophers, as opposed to the theological studies of the divines. As "this new-old learning had, or was credited with, a tendency to loosen the hold of the Church upon men's beliefs," humanist also gradually came to mean "free-thinker" [Fowler]. Philosophical sense is from 1903, from Comte's Religion of Humanity (compare humanism), unconnected to the two earlier meanings, "though accidentally near one of them in effect" [Fowler].
mid-15c., a parallel variant of human (adj.), with a form and stress that perhaps suggest a stronger association with Latin humanus than with Old French humain. Human and humane were used interchangeably in the senses "pertaining to a human being" and "having qualities befitting human beings" (c. 1500). The latter at first meant "courteous, friendly, civil, obliging," then "marked by tenderness, compassion, and a disposition to kindly treat others" (c. 1600). By early 18c. the words had differentiated in spelling and accent and humane took the "kind" sense.
Compare germane, urbane. Meaning "inflicting less pain than something else" is from 1904. Inhuman is its natural opposite. The Royal Humane Society (founded 1774) was originally to rescue drowning persons; such societies had turned to animal care by late 19c.
1530s, "of or relating to cities or towns," from French urbain (14c.) and directly from Latin urbanus "belonging to a city," also "citified, elegant" (see urban). The meaning "having the manners of townspeople, courteous, refined" is from 1620s, from a secondary sense in classical Latin. Urbanity in this sense is recorded from 1530s. For sense connection and differentiation of form, compare human/humane; german/germane.
Urbane; literally city-like, expresses a sort of politeness which is not only sincere and kind, but peculiarly suave and agreeable. [Century Dictionary]
"tiny human being produced artificially," 1650s, from Latin homunculus (plural homunculi), literally "little person," with -culus, diminutive suffix, + homo (genitive hominis), which technically meant "male human," but it also was used with a sense "the human race, mankind;" while in Vulgar Latin it could be used as "one, anyone, they, people" and in logical and scholastic writing as "a human being, person."
This is conjectured to be from PIE *(dh)ghomon- (source also of Old Irish duine, Welsh dyn, Breton den "man;" Old Prussian smunents, smunets "man;" Old Lithuanian žmuo "person," Lithuanian žmogus "man," žmones "people," Gothic guma, Old High German gomo, Old Norse gume, Old English guma "man"). The literal sense is "earthling," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth" (compare human (adj.)). Other Latin diminutives from homo included homullus, homuncio.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "earth."
It forms all or part of: antichthon; autochthon; autochthonic; bonhomie; bridegroom; camomile; chameleon; chernozem; chthonic; exhume; homage; hombre; homicide; hominid; Homo sapiens; homunculus; human; humane; humble; humiliate; humility; humus; inhumation; inhume; nemo; ombre; omerta.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit ksam- "earth" (opposed to "sky"); Greek khthōn "the earth, solid surface of the earth," khamai "on the ground;" Latin humus "earth, soil," humilis "low;" Lithuanian žemė, Old Church Slavonic zemlja "earth;" Old Irish du, genitive don "place," earlier "earth."