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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