Humility in its purest form is “the quality or state of being humble,” which would imply that it’s not a trait but instead an inherent quality. But in both dictionary definitions humble is listed as an adjective meaning “not arrogant; modest; unassuming,” and thereby implying that humility can be learnt. Let’s dive deeper in humility vs humble.
Humble has two meanings:
- Not proud or arrogant
- Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance; not arrogant : modest.
Humble has the same Latin root as humiliation, which means to put down, and is related to humiliate, meaning to cause to be humble; hence it can also mean ‘to cause to be humiliated’.
So although we say that we should aim to be “humble,” humility in itself can neither be learnt nor is it an attempt at modesty.
By contrast, humble is an adjective, meaning “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance; not arrogant” – here humility is used as an adjective which can either modify the noun humility or be used as a noun in cooperation with the above definition.
Humble also has two other related meanings:
- To humble oneself : to subject oneself humbly out of respect for another ; to lower ones ambitions for something, usually because of another persons higher goals.
- To make or become humble; subdue; crush; humble.
The difference between an adjective and an adverb (for example) is that the adjective describes something by stating what it is (e.g. ‘humble’), whereas an adverb tells us how something is done or how someone behaves, for example ‘humbly’ to show it is not done arrogantly or boastfully, but instead with respect to other people or with modesty.
So in short, humility is something one does in order to show respect to another person or to become humble, whereas humble itself cannot be done.
Although both are related they are not the same.
How to show humility in 5 different ways
Showing humility is not an easy task, but it is possible. There are different ways to show humility, with 5 different examples below:
- If one is in a position of authority over others he or she can show humility by treating the subordinates as if they were equals. In this case, despite holding a higher rank or title, the leader would show that he or she treats those under him as if they were equals and perhaps even more important than himself.
- An example of humility is for a leader to show interest in the needs of those under him or her. This means that the leader would be humble enough to be able to take an interest in those under him and how they feel, as well as what they need.
- When picking up a pencil or pen, we often put it away after we finish using it; we don’t hold on to it and praise ourselves for holding on to it and putting it away, but instead we put it away quickly and silently without much thought. That is the kind of humility we should strive for in daily situations.
- One can show humility by choosing to be humble, even when he or she has the chance to brag or boast about something, but instead chooses not to brag or boast.
- By being humble towards others, even when they have done wrong, it shows that one is above jealousy and spitefulness. It shows that ones spirit is high above maliciousness and anger towards others faults.