Definition of humble in English:


adjectivehumblest, humbler

  • 1Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's importance.

    ‘I felt very humble when meeting her’
    • ‘These executives and managers are humble, fearless, modest, and willful with endless reserves of energy.’
    • ‘We would probably prefer that the opera star or the sporting hero or the genius be suitably humble, modest, and generally endearing.’
    • ‘‘I am here as a humble human man of ordinary background,’ Bishop Kelly told The Nationalist this week.’
    • ‘The author was too modest and humble to reveal his name, they said.’
    • ‘He is humble and a true gentleman who makes his choices based on honesty and integrity.’
    • ‘Can you be stinking rich and love yourself and be proud of yourself and yet be humble and modest as well?’
    • ‘He's so humble and modest; I'm someone who literally brags when he goes to the gym, so it's pretty cool to come across such selflessness.’
    • ‘And, you know, he was just so sure of himself, but he was also a modest person and a humble person.’
    • ‘The Tibetans I spoke to were infectiously humble and friendly and politically charged without being pushy about independence after the Chinese invaded.’
    • ‘She did nothing and was as modest and humble as an angel, yet she did everything to perfection.’
    • ‘Ever since he lost the election for Taipei mayor, he has been humble and self-restrained, quiet and modest, to the surprise of many.’
    • ‘Rachel was great at sports, but what makes her different from the other girls Todd knew was that she was modest and humble.’
    meek, deferential, respectful, submissive, self-effacing, unassertive, unpresuming
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    1. 1.1 (of an action or thought) offered with or affected by a modest estimate of one's importance.
      ‘my humble apologies’
      • ‘A welcome change in this reviewer's humble opinion.’
      • ‘After presenting his scholarly ideal, the author describes his own humble scholarly contribution quite modestly.’
      • ‘In my humble estimation, these statistics should ignite a spark in the minds of serious bowlers.’
      • ‘None of them should be doing that in my humble estimation because it is proprietary, personal, it is a matter of U.S. privacy law.’
      • ‘It proved to be a disaster, in my humble opinion.’
      • ‘I don't know, but, in my humble opinion, it sure looks slicker to keep one or two buttons undone when wearing a dress shirt without a tie.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion, a beard can perform double duty as being a source of comfort and enjoyment, as well as looking sharp.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion it's just not that kind of a book.’
      • ‘Definitely a top film, in my humble estimations.’
      • ‘You guided us so brilliantly, while you also, in my humble opinion, gave the performance of your career.’
      • ‘All this was attended to in a professional and caring manner, whilst offering humble apologies for the state of the equipment they were forced to endure.’
      • ‘Many of the actions have been humble and simple.’
      • ‘At that point, offer your humble apologies and cancel the message.’
      • ‘A humble request to our politicians is to work together to take our country to new heights.’
      • ‘What one or two characteristics define a really quality blog (in your humble opinion, of course)?’
      • ‘The resulting CD will be released in the not-so-distant future, and, in my humble opinion, it will definitely be worth a listen.’
      • ‘If I did wrong to these people, then I offer my humble apologies.’
      • ‘That would (in my humble opinion) be much more harmful.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion, this sounds just about right.’
      • ‘Magic, in my humble estimation, is all about the stories you hold near and dear.’
  • 2Of low social, administrative, or political rank.

    ‘she came from a humble, unprivileged background’
    • ‘The man who was to enjoy one of the longest and most distinguished political careers in the post-war period was born into a remarkably humble background, 93 years ago today.’
    • ‘He was from a humble social background, raised either in a village or an orphanage.’
    • ‘She turned to her close friend, Parker, a working-class girl from a humble background.’
    • ‘In so many ways remarkable - to rise from humble background to hold all four great offices of State was something remarkable.’
    • ‘He is courteous, good-humoured, shrewd, canny and from a humble background in Edinburgh.’
    • ‘Geoffrey came from a humble working class background in Liverpool.’
    • ‘Not all of those who came were well born, and some had a humble background.’
    • ‘In many ways he had a charmed life: springing from a humble background in Edwardian Cornwall, he gained a coveted scholarship to Oxford, where he had a glittering early career.’
    • ‘Lloyd George was from a very humble background, had risen to the heights of British politics, and was very clever, very amusing.’
    • ‘So as we walked together, I regarded the corporal, even though he was of humble rank, and only two stripes my superior, as a man of appointed honor.’
    • ‘Because of his humble background the artist lacked extensive formal training and his talents were not realised until later in life.’
    • ‘Many of them were from humble backgrounds and went on to triumph in their chosen activity.’
    • ‘The party's rise also provided an opportunity for people of humble social origins to enter politics.’
    • ‘It was an optimistic time as pupils from humble backgrounds won places to study at the national university, while others started careers in the civil service, the police and the army.’
    • ‘Explaining his love for the poor, he said he came from a relatively humble background.’
    • ‘He starts from a humble family background as the son of a patriotic Socialist with a chip on his shoulder.’
    • ‘We both came from quite humble backgrounds and then we really appreciated what we got out of our football careers.’
    • ‘She was Manchu, not Chinese, background and was of humble origin.’
    • ‘These official inscriptions were produced in substantial quantities, in contrast to the small number of inscriptions produced by more humble social groups.’
    • ‘Reflecting on his own humble background, he sought to prove the case that where there are few bars to opportunity, you can rise to the highest office in whatever career you choose.’
    low-ranking, low, lowly, lower-class, plebeian, proletarian, working-class, undistinguished, poor, mean, ignoble, of low birth, low-born, of low rank
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  • 3(of a thing) of modest pretensions or dimensions.

    ‘he built the business empire from humble beginnings’
    • ‘Even though my dwelling is both humble and modest I still find the quarterly levy feels like more than I can afford.’
    • ‘She congratulated the board of management, parents and in particular the teachers who helped develop the school from its humble beginnings.’
    • ‘The school had a humble beginning with only 10 students.’
    • ‘From very humble beginnings we now have reached what anyone would call a centre of excellence.’
    • ‘Supporters are being asked to hold fundraising dinners, lunches or humble coffee breaks based around a literary theme.’
    • ‘The images show Hong Kong's transformation from humble manufacturing base to modern financial powerhouse.’
    • ‘From humble beginnings in a basement theatre at Kuranda, the company has expanded to a purpose-designed park on the outskirts of Cairns.’
    • ‘This market had humble beginnings eight years ago or so, and has blossomed into a teeming 55-stall market, split between food stalls and craft stalls.’
    • ‘Some reports estimate that more than 850 compounds are packed inside the humble bean.’
    • ‘Pies are always less fancy than cakes, by dint of their modest shape and humble nature.’
    • ‘It's a strange sight, incongruous with the modest and humble décor.’
    • ‘The heartbeat of the landowners' movement is the small trailer which serves as their base camp and humble headquarters.’
    • ‘From humble beginnings with 11 electronic trading platforms, the number exploded to a high of 90 in 2001.’
    • ‘It is an honour to have a designer of your stature in our humble school.’
    • ‘From its humble beginnings in January 1952, the school has continued to flourish attracting children from all over the locality.’
    • ‘A labour court in February ordered that the workers be re-instated and the six are back at work but they are refusing to move back into their humble houses on the farm.’
    • ‘Finally, my plans had evolved from a humble grow-hole into a modest, earth-sheltered greenhouse.’
    • ‘Despite their humble beginnings, they are an internationally recognised and respected organisation.’
    • ‘And 75 years on from those humble beginnings, it is thriving.’
    • ‘They then proceeded to torch the humble dwellings of the farm workers, presumably to ensure that they would not try to return to the village.’
    unpretentious, modest, unostentatious, plain, simple, ordinary
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[with object]
  • 1Cause (someone) to feel less important or proud.

    ‘he was humbled by his many ordeals’
    • ‘Such a swift and humbling defeat could have easily dampened my spirits, but something hooked me in during those few hazy seconds of combat.’
    • ‘I think that sometimes, that is what humbles me most.’
    • ‘My wife humbled me again last night when I went off into this rant when she said that I am always complaining rather than actually doing anything.’
    • ‘In order for a team to win, I think guys have to humble themselves enough to expose their weaknesses to their teammates.’
    • ‘I was overwhelmed and humbled by the magnitude of what surrounded me.’
    • ‘To see that magnificent athlete humbled by degenerative disease was very moving.’
    • ‘The Glasgow victory shows how ordinary workers can take on and humble this kind of giant firm.’
    • ‘Both were humbled by health difficulties and the consequences of their arrogance.’
    • ‘If you can humble yourself in preparation for an event you will surely be better able to judge and understand it.’
    • ‘I feel humbled by it, and the reality is I'm just reflecting the way most New Yorkers in my position would act.’
    • ‘Sometimes journalists are humbled by the happenings on sporting fields.’
    • ‘But we should see it through to the very end, totally humble these people, then build them back up so they may actually give back to civilization.’
    • ‘The sheer expanse of the skies humbles me but also makes me feel real and like I need to open up.’
    • ‘Experiencing his mercy should humble us, fill us with gratitude, and move us to be merciful toward those around us.’
    • ‘I made a bad choice and I did 200 hours of community service and it humbled me greatly.’
    • ‘I had to work through my pride and ego and humble myself and pray a lot, but I am a better person for it.’
    • ‘I was so humbled by the beauty of the moment that I respectfully rode in Robin's tracks as we left the beach and began climbing the grassy hill.’
    • ‘Then as you grow older and you place what you've done musically against all the body of work that's ever been made, it humbles you hugely.’
    • ‘When he put George down for the count in the eighth, a man hitherto regarded as an ogre was reduced to humbling mortality at the feet of boxing's greatest magician.’
    • ‘Some of us thought you might be humbled, maybe even a little ashamed.’
    humiliate, abase, demean, belittle, lower, degrade, debase, bring down, bring low
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    1. 1.1 Decisively defeat (a sporting opponent previously thought to be superior)
      ‘Wales were humbled at Cardiff Arms Park by Romania’
      • ‘Kings of cricket once, they were now being humbled by sides, that would have been simply swept aside in the past.’
      • ‘They currently stand proudly atop Group A - but can they humble the hosts to stay there?’
      • ‘I played in a poker tournament where I sat with a bunch of guys in sunglasses who proceeded to take my money and humble me completely and totally.’
      • ‘In Italy in 1990 Scotland were humbled by Costa Rica in the dreaded group phase of the World Cup.’
      • ‘The Americans, humbled by Puerto Rico on Sunday, showed more fight against the hosts in front of a hostile crowd.’
      • ‘It's goal is to defeat, to humble, the hyperpower.’
      • ‘Yet Tennessee was humbled, the Ravens crowned, and the outcome was clearly divine intervention.’
      • ‘I've learned one thing in this game: If you play long enough, you will be humbled.’
      • ‘They suffered a shock defeat to Puerto Rico in the opening game before being humbled by eventual winners Argentina in the semi-finals.’
      • ‘Especially as it would probably deprive Tunisia of the chance to humble former oppressors France in the second round.’
      • ‘The leaders of the Second Division were humbled to a 94 run defeat at home to Pendle Forest.’
      defeat, beat, beat hollow, crush, trounce, conquer, vanquish, rout, smash, overwhelm, get the better of, give a drubbing to, bring someone to their knees
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  • eat humble pie

    • Make a humble apology and accept humiliation.

      ‘he will have to eat humble pie at training after being sent off for punching’
      • ‘He swore to me that he had left it back in my shed, but had to eat humble pie when he discovered it was in his garage all the time.’
      • ‘The paper decides to eat humble pie, giving it a front page story and an apology, which seems to be 15 years too late.’
      • ‘Now, seven years later, we're eating humble pie.’
      • ‘My advice to anyone who experiences difficulties with family is to swallow pride, eat humble pie if need be, but above all to go on best as can be as though nothing has happened.’
      • ‘And those predicting total economic mayhem may still be forced to eat humble pie by this time next year if economic growth starts to pick up.’
      • ‘Derek ate humble pie and he was very proud of me.’
      • ‘This Board will not be eating humble pie as he suggested.’
      • ‘It was a risk I was prepared to take, although if it didn't work out I knew I might have to come back and eat humble pie.’
      • ‘I was going to make him eat humble pie on his own doorstep.’
      • ‘If I could paint a picture it would be of me eating humble pie.’
      back down, admit defeat, concede defeat, surrender, capitulate, yield, give in, give up, give way, cave in, submit
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  • one's humble abode

    • Used to refer to one's home with an ironic or humorous show of modesty.

      ‘how to transform your humble abode into a top totty student bedroom in minutes!’
      • ‘And Amelia wants me to let you know that we miss you and that you're welcome to stay with us, in our humble abode, anytime you're in town.’
      • ‘Currently, we don't even have a TV in my humble abode.’
      • ‘It was on Sunday Steve finally convinced me to visit his humble abode.’
      • ‘I refer primarily to my humble abode, which is such a disaster that I fear I may come home to find the cats have run away to protest conditions.’
      • ‘To celebrate a relative's 80th birthday the whole family descended en-masse to our humble abode.’
      • ‘‘Welcome to our humble abode,’ Ricky said, entering the room, his guest beside him.’
      • ‘Get it wrong and you could end up lowering the value of your humble abode!’
      • ‘I'm very grateful that my neighbors were curious enough about the cries of pain emanating from my humble abode and called the paramedics.’
      • ‘In the meantime, you will rest in my humble abode.’
      • ‘How he regretted bringing Jeremy into his humble abode.’
      unpretentious, modest, unostentatious, plain, simple, ordinary
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  • your humble servant

    • humorous, archaic Used at the end of a letter or as a form of ironic courtesy.

      ‘your most humble servant, George Porter’
      • ‘Forgive your humble servant for I was late to summon my soldiers from the north.’
      • ‘So now, you have the choice of being entertained with the antics of the successful Jester, or the words of your humble servant here.’
      • ‘Sponsor me and I'll be your humble servant for 24 hours on July 26th.’
      • ‘Until next month I remain your humble servant.’
      • ‘I declare myself to be only your humble servant.’


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin humilis ‘low, lowly’, from humus ‘ground’.