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Is there a difference between the words "humbleness" and "humility", or are they perfectly interchangeable?

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  • See this. Mar 24, 2022 at 9:07
  • Please share your reasearch in the question, not in the comments. You ask about perfect synonyms so it's not clear why you think they may be. If you do include the dictionary definitions and the reason for asking, you'll get better answers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 24, 2022 at 10:09
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    The idea that there is such a thing as a perfect synonym ... Mar 24, 2022 at 16:41

2 Answers 2

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When describing a person and their quality of humility, they are interchangeable. 'Humility' is used far more in literature as this ngram demonstrates. I'm a native British English speaker, and I've personally never encountered the word 'humbleness' in everyday use.

However, one can also describe an inanimate object, or an abstract as being 'humble' - for example, "a humble upbringing", or "the humble sandwich". Such things could not be described as having 'humility' as this is a human trait, so the quality they possess would be "humbleness".

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  • I understand the primary intent is to provide the best answer for others but I also think it would be polite to acknowledge when incorporating another's answer into yours, especially when it substantially changes your original answer. Apr 3, 2022 at 9:38
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Yes, there is a difference and so they are not perfectly interchangeable.

For instance, in addition to the shared "personal quality of a modest self-perception" meaning, humbleness can also mean having actual low rank.

Example:

"Despite the humbleness of her birth she rose to greatness."

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