The Meaning of Humble: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of humble? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word humble, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word humble mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, American Heritage, and Collins English Dictionary, the word humble can be used as an adjective or verb. As an adjective, the word humble describes someone or something that is not proud, haughty, assertive or arrogant. This person has a spirit of deference or submission, or ranks low in a hierarchy scale.  As a verb, the word humble means to destroy the power, exaltation, self-sufficiency or prestige of, or to make someone feel humble or shame. One can add the suffixes ed, ing, er, and est to -ble to create humbled, humbling, humbler and humblest. The pronunciation of humble is 

Someone who is humble has modesty, meekness, subservience, submissive respect and grace. This person may view themselves as being in a lower condition to others and have little self respect or wisdom. This inferiority The quality of humility is used in religious texts like the Bible in Proverbs, and is seen as a good thing and an honor. In the Bible, people are told to “humble themselves therefore under the mighty hand of God.”

Many different languages also contain their own words for the word humble. You may notice that some of these translations of humble look and sound similar to the word humble. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of humble is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Armenian: համեստ‎, պարկեշտ‎
  •  Catalan: humil‎
  •  Maori: māhaki‎
  •  Polish: skromny‎ (masc.), pokorny‎ (masc.)
  •  Slovak: pokorný‎
  •  Khmer: ធ្វើអោយសុភាព‎ (tvəə aoy so’pʰiep)
  •  Indonesian: rendah hati‎
  •  Esperanto: humila‎
  •  Czech: pokorný‎ (masc.)
  •  Norwegian: ydmyk‎
  •  Finnish: vaatimaton‎, nöyrä‎
  •  Norman: humbl’ye‎ (Jersey)
  •  Roman: skroman‎
  •  Russian: скро́мный‎, смире́нный‎, ро́бкий‎, поко́рный‎, кро́ткий‎
  •  Cherokee: ᏄᏢᏉᏛᎾ‎
  •  Mandarin: 謙卑‎, 谦卑‎ (qiānbēi), 謙遜‎, 谦逊‎ (qiānxùn), 謙虛‎, 谦虚‎ (qiānxū)
  •  Lithuanian: kuklus‎ (masc.), kukli‎ (fem.)
  •  Volapük: mükik‎
  •  Romanian: umil‎
  •  Galician: humilde‎
  •  Irish: umhal‎
  •  Latvian: vienkāršs‎ (masc.), vienkārša‎ (fem.), necils‎ (masc.), necila‎ (fem.)
  •  French: humble‎
  •  Japanese: 謙虚‎, 謙遜‎, 卑屈‎
  •  Ido: humila‎
  •  Ngazidja Comorian: nyekevu‎
  •  Korean: 겸손하다‎, 경멸하다‎
  •  Belarusian: сці́плы‎, скро́мны‎
  •  Hebrew: צנוע‎ (tsanúa), ענו‎ (anáv)
  •  Swedish: anspråkslös‎, ödmjuka‎, blygsam‎
  •  Vietnamese: khiêm tốn‎, khúm núm‎
  •  Georgian: თავმდაბალი‎
  •  Ukrainian: скро́мний‎
  •  Italian: umile‎, modesto‎
  •  Luxembourgish: damiddeg‎
  •  Portuguese: humilde‎
  •  Estonian: alandlik‎, tagasihoidlik‎
  •  Oriya: ନମ୍ର‎ (namra)
  •  German: demütig‎, bescheiden‎
  •  Turkish: gösterişsiz‎, mütevazı‎, kalender‎, naçiz‎, alçak gönüllü‎
  •  Dutch: bescheiden‎, deemoedig‎
  •  Slovene: skromen‎
  •  Macedonian: смирен‎, покорен‎
  •  Hungarian: alázatos‎
  •  Spanish: modesto‎ (masc.), humilde‎
  •  Bulgarian: смире́н‎, скро́мен‎
  •  Danish: ydmyg‎
  •  Cyrillic: скроман‎

How can the word humble be used in a sentence?

The word humble can be used in many different sentences. Using words in a sentence or creating flashcards and quizzes is a great way to memorize a word’s definition. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are several examples of humble.

The modest man of the people came from humble beginnings and a low birth. These small beginnings were filled with unskilled work, civil service and domestic work. He had a transformation from his years of labor and gained self-respect and self-worth to become the man he is today, receiving the highest formal honors for his charity work.

The man gave a humble apology to his colleague in front of the boss. He thought this would make him seem like a man of virtue, but it came off fake and disingenuous.

The team suffered a humbling defeat to their bitter rival at the semifinals, but when given the chance to compete in the finals after another team dropped out, they secured the victory.

The lowly parish priest was a humble servant to the community. Every morning, he cleaned the dirty faces of the orphans who lived in the church and offered free counseling to everyone who asked.

What are synonyms and antonyms of humble?

There are many different words that have the same meaning as the word humble. These are called synonyms, which are very useful to know if you are trying to expand your English language vocabulary or avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms of humble is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  modest
  •  unassuming
  •  unambitious
  •  unostentatious
  •  mild
  •  hesitant
  •  docile
  •  meek
  •  tractable
  •  deferential
  •  demure
  •  fearful
  •  backward
  •  biddable
  •  obsequious
  •  diffident
  •  courteous
  •  gentle
  •  self-conscious
  •  lowly
  •  manageable
  •  timorous
  •  tentative
  •  soft-spoken
  •  reserved
  •  supplicatory
  •  servile
  •  unobtrusive
  •  submissive
  •  subservient
  •  simple
  •  self-effacing
  •  blushing
  •  timid
  •  sheepish
  •  content
  •  unpretentious
  •  sedate
  •  retiring
  •  bashful
  •  withdrawn
  •  obliging
  •  ordinary
  •  standoffish
  •  apprehensive
  •  reverential
  •  quiet
  •  respectful
  •  polite
  •  shy

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of humble. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to grow your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  self-absorbed
  •  self-centered
  •  self-important
  •  vainglorious
  •  egotistical
  •  vain
  •  conceited
  •  selfish
  •  self-involved
  •  puffed up
  •  smug
  •  egotistic
  •  narcissistic
  •  egocentric
  •  self-seeking
  •  pompous
  •  egoistic
  •  stuck-up
  •  self-serving
  •  prideful
  •  pride-having

What is the origin of the word humble?

According to Etymonline, the word humble has been used since the late 13c Middle English and comes from the Old French humble and Old French umble, earlier spelled umele. This comes from the Latin humilis, literally meaning on the ground. This can be compared to the Greek χαμαλός. This comes from the Latin humus meaning earth. This is of Proto-Indo-European roots. One can add the suffixes ness, tion, and bly to create the related words humbly (adv.), humbleness (n.), humility (n.) and humiliation, as well as homage. Humble has been used as a verb since the late 14c. 

Overall, the word humble means modest or meek. This person is not vain or egotistical. Humble can be used as an adjective or verb.


  1. humble | Origin and meaning of humble | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. humble: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. HUMBLE Synonyms: 226 Synonyms & Antonyms for HUMBLE
  4. EGOTISTICAL Synonyms: 19 Synonyms & Antonyms for EGOTISTICAL | Thesaurus
  5. Humble | Definition of Humble | Merriam-Webster