Last week, I was reading through the local newspaper when I came across a word that stopped me in my tracks: humbleness.

As someone who regularly attends Christian church services, I’ve heard my fair share of people using “humblenss”, and every time I do, I am left wondering, “Why don’t you just use humility?” So, I did a bit of research.

Humbleness is actually a legitimate word. In fact, it’s several centuries old; Shakespeare even used it in the Merchant of Venice. That being said, dictionaries are consistent in their treatment of it as a synonym of “humility”. It’s certainly not wrong to use it, but it seems to me to be superfluous.

So, further to the title of this post, there is no fundamental difference between humbleness and humility. They mean the same thing, and they both have been around for a long time. Even so, humility is the most popular of the two.

Feel free to use either one, but consider your audience before doing so.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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