humanitarian

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From humanity +‎ -arian (suffix indicating an advocate of or believer in something), possibly modelled after Unitarian (Christian who does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity; pertaining to Unitarianism) (see noun sense 2 and verb sense 2).[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

humanitarian (comparative more humanitarian, superlative most humanitarian)

  1. Concerned with people's welfare, and the alleviation of suffering; compassionate, humane.
    • 1871 July, James G. Clark, Dogmatic and Real Religion. [], [Syracuse, N.Y.]: Syracuse Radical Club, OCLC 77744325, page 3:
      So far as the followers of Jesus have woven the humanitarian teachings of their master into the living fibre of their own daily lives, the Christian religion has been a blessing and a civilizer.
    • 1872, S[imon] M[ohler] Landis, “Deacon Stew Raves at Lucinda’s Love for Victor”, in [] The Social War of the Year 1900; or, The Conspirators and Lovers!, Philadelphia, Pa.: Landis Publishing Society, [], OCLC 2197337, page 20:
      [T]his most painful condition [a fractured arm], [...] was brought about through the humanitarian act of saving, and restoring to life, the angelic form of a creature whose very existence was a gigantic balm of Gilead to the lacerated body of our hero, [...]
    • 1909, J[ohn] A[llen] F[itzgerald] Gregg, “Introduction”, in A[lexander] F[rancis] Kirkpatrick, editor, The Wisdom of Solomon: [] (The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, OCLC 460328877, page xxxii:
      But though personified, the function of Wisdom is mainly humanitarian: her delights are with the sons of men (Prov[erbs] viii. 31, 32).
    • 1914 January 16, William Henry Welch, “Present Position of Medical Education, Its Development and Great Needs for the Future”, in Walter C. Burket, editor, Papers and Addresses by William Henry Welch: In Three Volumes, volume III, Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins Press, published 1920, OCLC 4354546, page 115:
      There are three divisions into which the purposes of the hospital may be classed: Humanitarian, educational and scientific. The humanitarian relates to the care of the sick.
    • 1977 June 8, “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977”, in International Committee of the Red Cross[1], archived from the original on 1 August 2020, article 5(3):
      If a Protecting Power has not been designated or accepted from the beginning of a situation referred to in Article 1, the International Committee of the Red Cross, without prejudice to the right of any other impartial humanitarian organization to do likewise, shall offer its good offices to the Parties to the conflict with a view to the designation without delay of a Protecting Power to which the Parties to the conflict consent.
    • 1980 September 13–14, K. Garth Huston, “Bibliographical Note”, in John Fothergill, Observations on the Recovery of a Man Dead in Appearance by Distending the Lungs with Air, Van Nuys, Calif.: K. Garth Huston [], OCLC 8539476:
      Dr. John Fothergill, eighteenth century Quaker physician, was eminent in the practice of medicine, active in the religious Society of Friends, and prominent in the humanitarian and charitable philanthropies of his time.
    • 2007, Gabriel Andrew Msoka, “General Conclusion”, in Basic Human Rights and the Humanitarian Crises in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ethical Reflections (Princeton Theological Monograph Series; 74), Eugene, Or.: Pickwick Publications, Wipf and Stock Publishers, →ISBN, page 169:
      The devastating effect of the violence is illustrated by the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that caused deaths, homelessness, despair, poverty, political instability, and economic stagnation in this country.
    • 2015, Jenny H. Peterson, “Introduction”, in Roger Mac Ginty and Jenny H. Peterson, editors, The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action (Routledge Companions), Abingdon, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 1:
      Legal scholars and jurists have produced a wealth of material which explores whether armed humanitarian interventions are in line with international law and whether attacks on civilians or non-military targets breach international humanitarian law.
  2. (Christianity, rare) Of or pertaining to the belief that Jesus Christ is fully human and not divine.
    • [1792], Benjamin Hobhouse, “Letter V”, in A Reply to the Rev. F[rancis] Randolph’s Letter to the Rev. Dr. [Joseph] Priestley; or, An Examination of the Rev. F. Randolph’s “Scriptural Revision of Socinian Arguments:” [], Trowbridge, Wiltshire: [] Abraham Small, for T[homas] Cadell, [], OCLC 748679330, section IV (Of Your Comments upon the Following Extract from Dr. Priestley’s Letter to Dr. [Richard] Price, Page 45), page 85:
      I might further object that ſome Humanitarians would tell you that the doctrine of the atonement is perfectly compatible with the ſimple humanity of Chriſt, ſo that to every perſon of the Humanitarian perſuaſion the former tenet does not appear "mockery and deluſion."
    • 1793, F[rancis] Randolph, Scriptural Revision of Socinian Arguments Vindicated, against the Reply of Benjamin Hobhouse, Esq., Bath, Somerset: [] R. Cruttwell, for T[homas] Cadell, [], OCLC 84811788, pages 147–148:
      [Y]ou muſt have recourſe to pretty ſtrong figure to reconcile that belief to humanitarian tenets, from this beautiful and ſublime chapter.
  3. (philosophy, historical) Synonym of humanist (relating to humanism)
    • 1876, Joachim Kaspary, Natural Laws; or The Infallible Criterion, London: J. A. Brook & Co., [], OCLC 38313403, pages 3–4:
      By the study of natural laws, Humanitarian philosophers know how to distinguish those thoughts, desires and actions which are rewarded, from those that are corrected, and Humanitarian philosophers are thus, next to the God of Nature, the safest guides and greatest benefactors of mankind; for, not a single individual, still less Society, can improve without the Humanitarian philosophy, as it alone is based on the only infallible criterion.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The Compact Oxford Dictionary from 1996 has a usage note criticizing use of humanitarian as in humanitarian disaster, saying "the adjective humanitarian is often used inaccurately by reporters, e.g This is the worst humanitarian disaster within living memory, as if humanitarian meant 'of or relating to humanity'", though the current entry given by OxfordDictionaries.com has a more tempered commentary: "The primary sense of humanitarian is 'concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.' Since the 1930s, a new sense, exemplified by phrases such as the worst humanitarian disaster this country has seen, has been gaining currency, and is now broadly established, especially in journalism, although it is not considered good style by all".

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

humanitarian (plural humanitarians)

  1. A person concerned with people's welfare; a do-gooder or philanthropist.
    • 1856, J[ohn] S. Thrasher, “Preliminary Essay”, in Alexander Humboldt [i.e., Alexander von Humboldt]; J. S. Thrasher, transl., The Island of Cuba, [], New York, N.Y.: Derby & Jackson, []; Cincinnati, Oh.: H. W. Derby, OCLC 85800438, page 53:
      But if we doubt the humanity of the social theories of [Bartolomé de] Las Casas, and the humanitarians of the sixteenth century, what verdict may not posterity accord to those of [William] Wilberforce and the humanitarians of the nineteenth century, when it contemplates the results of their social experiments in St. Domingo, Jamaica, and the other islands of the American Archipelago.
    • 1870 June, [George Prentice], “Haven’s National Sermons”, in I[saac] W[illiam] Wiley, editor, The Ladies’ Repository: A Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Literature and Religion, volume VI (New Series; volume XXX overall), Cincinnati, Oh.: Hitchcock and Walden; New York, N.Y.: Carlton and Lanahan, OCLC 247142692, page 404, column 1:
      Mr. [Gilbert] Haven has never forgotten this sacred duty. While our humanitarians have inquired into the natural rights of man, the spirit of modern civilization and the Constitution, he, without despising such inquiries, has sought wisdom and direction at the Cross.
    • 1929, Julia Seton, “Supra-consciousness: Sight—Hearing—Taste—Touch—Smell”, in The Short Cut—Regeneration through Fasting, 2nd edition, Chicago, Ill.: Occult Publishing Company, OCLC 6354007, page 78:
      Their thoughts, wished out into form, make a fit place for the weaker multitude to live in and they are always the humanitarians, giving their life for the world.
    • 2000 July 13, Lee Child [pseudonym; James Dover Grant], chapter 31, in Running Blind (A Jack Reacher Novel), New York, N.Y.: Jove Books, published July 2009, →ISBN, page 508:
      And she took the time to lock the door behind her, even though she was rushing upstairs because she's such a humanitarian?
    • 2009, Anna Lydia Motto, “Seneca on the Bestowal of Benefits”, in Additional Essays on Seneca (Studien zur klassischen Philologie), Frankfurt am Main, Hesse: Peter Lang, →ISBN, ISSN 0172-1798, page 106:
      Both Seneca [the Younger] and [Jonathan] Swift were humanitarians who freely served their fellow men.
    • 2015 February, Rashid Shabazz, “Rashid Shabazz”, in Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, editors, Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding, New York, N.Y.: Atria Paperback, →ISBN, page 136:
      My parents always affirmed that if you're able to love yourself, you're better able to love your community and those around you, regardless of their ethnicity or race, which makes it easier to be a true humanitarian.
  2. (Christianity, rare) One who believes that Jesus Christ is fully human and not divine.
    • [1792], Benjamin Hobhouse, “Letter IV”, in A Reply to the Rev. F[rancis] Randolph’s Letter to the Rev. Dr. [Joseph] Priestley; or, An Examination of the Rev. F. Randolph’s “Scriptural Revision of Socinian Arguments:” [], Trowbridge, Wiltshire: [] Abraham Small, for T[homas] Cadell, [], OCLC 748679330, section II (Of Your Quotation from Irenæus), page 171:
      But it will be demanded, how happened it that Irenæus, the pupil of that Polycarp who is repreſented to have been a Humanitarian, ſhould become a zealous advocate for the Deity of Chriſt?
    • 1793, F[rancis] Randolph, Scriptural Revision of Socinian Arguments Vindicated, against the Reply of Benjamin Hobhouse, Esq., Bath, Somerset: [] R. Cruttwell, for T[homas] Cadell, [], OCLC 84811788, page 34:
      [S]hould any one tell a Humanitarian, that I worſhipped and adored my Saviour, might he not with equal juſtice ſuppoſe me to avow only the ſame ſort of reverence I thought due a parent, or the adoration one profeſſed to pay any beloved object.
    • 1829 January, “Introduction”, in The Spirit of the Pilgrims, volume II, number 1, Boston, Mass.: Peirce and Williams, [], OCLC 1766347, page 7:
      It is well understood that most Unitarians, especially those recently educated, are humanitarians. They deny the preexistence of Christ, and regard him as no more than a highly gifted and Divinely inspired prophet, a man.
    • 1841 July, “Art VIII.—Literary Notices. [Names and Titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. By Charles Spear. Fourth Edition. [] 1841. 12mo. pp. 400. (book review).]”, in The Boston Quarterly Review, volume IV, number III, Boston, Mass.: Benjamin H. Greene, [], OCLC 1069626885, page 392:
      He [Charles Spear] is not a Trinitarian nor yet a Humanitarian, but seems to favor what is sometimes called the Superangelic scheme. He appears to have shrunk from relying on Jesus as a man, and to have been unable to perceive the strict identity of the Son with the Father, and so gets for a Saviour a being neither God nor man.
  3. (philosophy, historical) Synonym of humanist (a person who believes in the philosophy of humanism)
    • 1876, Joachim Kaspary, Natural Laws; or The Infallible Criterion, London: J. A. Brook & Co., [], OCLC 38313403, page 136:
      Therefore, Humanitarians alone devote their present lives to create heavens within themselves and others, and a real paradise upon earth, because they do not waste their time with Pagan delusions, Sceptical doubts, and Atheistical selfishness, but live happily in the present by preparing for themselves and others happier future human lives upon our improveable globe.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]