Definition of humble in English:

humble

adjective

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

    ‘he was humble about his stature as one of rock history's most influential guitarists’
    • ‘‘I am here as a humble human man of ordinary background,’ Bishop Kelly told The Nationalist this week.’
    • ‘We would probably prefer that the opera star or the sporting hero or the genius be suitably humble, modest, and generally endearing.’
    • ‘Rachel was great at sports, but what makes her different from the other girls Todd knew was that she was modest and humble.’
    • ‘The Tibetans I spoke to were infectiously humble and friendly and politically charged without being pushy about independence after the Chinese invaded.’
    • ‘These executives and managers are humble, fearless, modest, and willful with endless reserves of energy.’
    • ‘The author was too modest and humble to reveal his name, they said.’
    • ‘Ever since he lost the election for Taipei mayor, he has been humble and self-restrained, quiet and modest, to the surprise of many.’
    • ‘And, you know, he was just so sure of himself, but he was also a modest person and a humble person.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘She did nothing and was as modest and humble as an angel, yet she did everything to perfection.’
    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 own importance.
      ‘my humble apologies’
      • ‘What one or two characteristics define a really quality blog (in your humble opinion, of course)?’
      • ‘Magic, in my humble estimation, is all about the stories you hold near and dear.’
      • ‘You guided us so brilliantly, while you also, in my humble opinion, gave the performance of your career.’
      • ‘A welcome change in this reviewer's humble opinion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion, this sounds just about right.’
      • ‘In my humble estimation, these statistics should ignite a spark in the minds of serious bowlers.’
      • ‘If I did wrong to these people, then I offer my humble apologies.’
      • ‘Definitely a top film, in my humble estimations.’
      • ‘That would (in my humble opinion) be much more harmful.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion, a beard can perform double duty as being a source of comfort and enjoyment, as well as looking sharp.’
      • ‘A humble request to our politicians is to work together to take our country to new heights.’
      • ‘Many of the actions have been humble and simple.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In my humble opinion it's just not that kind of a book.’
      • ‘After presenting his scholarly ideal, the author describes his own humble scholarly contribution quite modestly.’
      • ‘At that point, offer your humble apologies and cancel the message.’
      • ‘It proved to be a disaster, in my humble opinion.’
      • ‘The resulting CD will be released in the not-so-distant future, and, in my humble opinion, it will definitely be worth a listen.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Of low social, administrative, or political rank.

    ‘she came from a humble, unprivileged background’
    • ‘He starts from a humble family background as the son of a patriotic Socialist with a chip on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Because of his humble background the artist lacked extensive formal training and his talents were not realised until later in life.’
    • ‘He was from a humble social background, raised either in a village or an orphanage.’
    • ‘Explaining his love for the poor, he said he came from a relatively humble background.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Geoffrey came from a humble working class background in Liverpool.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The party's rise also provided an opportunity for people of humble social origins to enter politics.’
    • ‘In so many ways remarkable - to rise from humble background to hold all four great offices of State was something remarkable.’
    • ‘She turned to her close friend, Parker, a working-class girl from a humble 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.’
    • ‘Lloyd George was from a very humble background, had risen to the heights of British politics, and was very clever, very amusing.’
    • ‘She was Manchu, not Chinese, background and was of humble origin.’
    • ‘He is courteous, good-humoured, shrewd, canny and from a humble background in Edinburgh.’
    • ‘These official inscriptions were produced in substantial quantities, in contrast to the small number of inscriptions produced by more humble social groups.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We both came from quite humble backgrounds and then we really appreciated what we got out of our football careers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many of them were from humble backgrounds and went on to triumph in their chosen activity.’
    • ‘Not all of those who came were well born, and some had a humble background.’
    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’
    • ‘Finally, my plans had evolved from a humble grow-hole into a modest, earth-sheltered greenhouse.’
    • ‘And 75 years on from those humble beginnings, it is thriving.’
    • ‘From its humble beginnings in January 1952, the school has continued to flourish attracting children from all over the locality.’
    • ‘The images show Hong Kong's transformation from humble manufacturing base to modern financial powerhouse.’
    • ‘It's a strange sight, incongruous with the modest and humble décor.’
    • ‘Pies are always less fancy than cakes, by dint of their modest shape and humble nature.’
    • ‘Even though my dwelling is both humble and modest I still find the quarterly levy feels like more than I can afford.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The heartbeat of the landowners' movement is the small trailer which serves as their base camp and humble headquarters.’
    • ‘It is an honour to have a designer of your stature in our humble school.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘From humble beginnings with 11 electronic trading platforms, the number exploded to a high of 90 in 2001.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Despite their humble beginnings, they are an internationally recognised and respected organisation.’
    • ‘From humble beginnings in a basement theatre at Kuranda, the company has expanded to a purpose-designed park on the outskirts of Cairns.’
    • ‘She congratulated the board of management, parents and in particular the teachers who helped develop the school from its humble beginnings.’
    • ‘Supporters are being asked to hold fundraising dinners, lunches or humble coffee breaks based around a literary theme.’
    • ‘Some reports estimate that more than 850 compounds are packed inside the humble bean.’
    unpretentious, modest, unostentatious, plain, simple, ordinary
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verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Lower (someone) in dignity or importance.

    ‘I knew he had humbled himself to ask for my help’
    • ‘I feel humbled by it, and the reality is I'm just reflecting the way most New Yorkers in my position would act.’
    • ‘The sheer expanse of the skies humbles me but also makes me feel real and like I need to open up.’
    • ‘The Glasgow victory shows how ordinary workers can take on and humble this kind of giant firm.’
    • ‘I was overwhelmed and humbled by the magnitude of what surrounded me.’
    • ‘Some of us thought you might be humbled, maybe even a little ashamed.’
    • ‘To see that magnificent athlete humbled by degenerative disease was very moving.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In order for a team to win, I think guys have to humble themselves enough to expose their weaknesses to their teammates.’
    • ‘If you can humble yourself in preparation for an event you will surely be better able to judge and understand it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I had to work through my pride and ego and humble myself and pray a lot, but I am a better person for it.’
    • ‘Sometimes journalists are humbled by the happenings on sporting fields.’
    • ‘Both were humbled by health difficulties and the consequences of their arrogance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I made a bad choice and I did 200 hours of community service and it humbled me greatly.’
    • ‘Experiencing his mercy should humble us, fill us with gratitude, and move us to be merciful toward those around us.’
    humiliate, abase, demean, belittle, lower, degrade, debase, bring down, bring low
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    1. 1.1 Decisively defeat (another team or competitor, typically one that was previously thought to be superior)
      ‘he was humbled by his political opponents’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I've learned one thing in this game: If you play long enough, you will be humbled.’
      • ‘Yet Tennessee was humbled, the Ravens crowned, and the outcome was clearly divine intervention.’
      • ‘They currently stand proudly atop Group A - but can they humble the hosts to stay there?’
      • ‘Kings of cricket once, they were now being humbled by sides, that would have been simply swept aside in the past.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's goal is to defeat, to humble, the hyperpower.’
      • ‘They suffered a shock defeat to Puerto Rico in the opening game before being humbled by eventual winners Argentina in the semi-finals.’
      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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Phrases

  • eat humble pie

    • Make a humble apology and accept humiliation.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Derek ate humble pie and he was very proud of me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This Board will not be eating humble pie as he suggested.’
      • ‘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.’
      back down, admit defeat, concede defeat, surrender, capitulate, yield, give in, give up, give way, cave in, submit
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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’
      • ‘I declare myself to be only your humble servant.’
      • ‘Forgive your humble servant for I was late to summon my soldiers from the north.’
      • ‘Until next month I remain your humble servant.’
      • ‘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.’
  • my humble abode

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

      • ‘I'm very grateful that my neighbors were curious enough about the cries of pain emanating from my humble abode and called the paramedics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the meantime, you will rest in my humble abode.’
      • ‘How he regretted bringing Jeremy into his humble abode.’
      • ‘Get it wrong and you could end up lowering the value of your humble abode!’
      • ‘It was on Sunday Steve finally convinced me to visit his humble abode.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Currently, we don't even have a TV in my humble abode.’
      unpretentious, modest, unostentatious, plain, simple, ordinary
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

humble

/ˈhəmbəl//ˈhəmbəl/