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Humiliation vs. Humility — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 29, 2024
Humiliation involves embarrassment and a loss of dignity often inflicted by others, whereas humility is a personal quality of being modest and respectful.
Humiliation vs. Humility — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Humiliation and Humility


Key Differences

Humiliation is the feeling of shame or embarrassment, typically resulting from being degraded by others or through a demeaning experience. On the other hand, humility is a character trait that involves recognizing one's limitations and showing respect for others without seeking superiority.
Humiliation often decreases a person's self-esteem and can be emotionally painful, as it involves a loss of dignity and respect in the eyes of others. Whereas, humility is generally viewed positively, as it enhances one's relationships and is associated with self-awareness and emotional strength.
People experience humiliation as a result of external factors, such as criticism, mockery, or failure in a public setting. Meanwhile, humility is internally cultivated and involves an understanding and acceptance of one's flaws and strengths without needing external validation.
While humiliation can lead to resentment, social withdrawal, or even aggression in response to feeling demeaned, humility can foster cooperation, empathy, and effective communication within a group setting.
Humiliation is often used as a tool for power or control, where one individual or group seeks to lower the status of another. In contrast, humility is associated with equality and the voluntary acknowledgment of not being superior to others.

Comparison Chart


External (others' actions or situations)
Internal (self-perception and values)

Emotional Impact

Negative (shame, loss of dignity)
Positive (self-awareness, respect)

Relationship with Self-Esteem

Lowers self-esteem
Compatible with high self-esteem

Social Effect

Can lead to isolation and resentment
Promotes cooperation and empathy

Function in Power Dynamics

Often used to exert control or demean
Involves acknowledging equality

Compare with Definitions


The result of an action intended to lower someone's dignity.
The judge's harsh comments added to the defendant's humiliation.


Promotes social harmony and self-awareness.
His humility in acknowledging his mistake smoothed over the potential conflict.


A state of disgrace or loss of self-respect.
Her humiliation was complete when the photos were shared online.


The quality of being respectfully modest.
Despite her achievements, she approached every conversation with humility.


Emotional suffering linked to public embarrassment.
The humiliation of being fired in such a public manner lingered for years.


A modest view of one's own importance; humbleness.
His humility was evident when he credited his team for the success.


Often associated with feelings of being demeaned or insulted.
She experienced profound humiliation after being mocked by her peers.


Reflects a lack of arrogance or pretense.
He carried his accolades with humility, never boasting about his accomplishments.


The act of making someone feel ashamed or foolish, often publicly.
He felt humiliation when his mistake was pointed out in front of the entire class.


A characteristic that fosters learning and listening.
Her humility made her a beloved leader, as she always valued others' opinions.


Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is an emotion felt by a person whose social status, either by force or willingly, has just decreased.


Humility is the quality of being humble. Dictionary definitions accentuate humility as a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness.


The act of humiliating; degradation.


The quality or condition of being humble.


The state of being humiliated or disgraced; shame.


The characteristic of being humble; humbleness in character and behavior.


A humiliating condition or circumstance.


The state or quality of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth; a sense of one's own unworthiness through imperfection and sinfulness; self-abasement; humbleness.
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind.


The act of humiliating or humbling someone; abasement of pride; mortification.


An act of submission or courtesy.
With these humilities they satisfied the young king.


The state of being humiliated, humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.


A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride;
Not everyone regards humility as a virtue


The act of humiliating or humbling; abasement of pride; mortification.


A humble feeling;
He was filled with humility at the sight of the Pope


The state of being humiliated, humbled, or reduced to lowliness or submission.
The former was a humiliation of Deity; the latter a humiliation of manhood.


State of disgrace or loss of self-respect


Strong feelings of embarrassment


An instance in which you are caused to lose your prestige or self-respect;
He had to undergo one humiliation after another


Depriving one of self-esteem

Common Curiosities

Why is humility considered a virtue?

Humility is considered a virtue because it involves recognizing one's limitations and valuing others, contributing to better interpersonal relationships and personal integrity.

What is the key emotional consequence of humiliation?

Humiliation typically results in feelings of shame, embarrassment, and decreased self-esteem.

How can one cope with feelings of humiliation?

Coping with humiliation can involve seeking support, practicing self-compassion, and developing resilience to overcome negative feelings.

Can humiliation have any positive effects?

While often painful, humiliation can sometimes lead to personal growth if it leads to self-reflection and change.

How does humility affect personal relationships?

Humility generally enhances personal relationships by fostering respect, empathy, and understanding.

Can humility be misconstrued in a competitive environment?

In highly competitive environments, humility might sometimes be misconstrued as a lack of ambition or assertiveness.

How can someone develop humility?

Developing humility can involve practices like mindfulness, self-reflection, acknowledging others' contributions, and focusing on personal growth rather than external validation.

Is humility a sign of weakness?

Contrary to some perceptions, humility is not a sign of weakness but a strength that demonstrates self-confidence and self-awareness.

What are the social impacts of humiliation?

Socially, humiliation can lead to alienation, resentment, and even conflict, as it damages relationships and personal dignity.

What differentiates humility from low self-esteem?

Humility is a positive quality involving a realistic assessment of one's abilities and shortcomings, unlike low self-esteem, which is characterized by a lack of confidence in one's worth.

What role does humility play in leadership?

In leadership, humility can lead to more democratic and inclusive decision-making processes, fostering team loyalty and effectiveness.

What are some historical examples where humiliation played a significant role?

Historical examples include political or military defeats that have led to national humiliation and subsequent calls for reform or revenge.

How can organizations prevent humiliation?

Organizations can prevent humiliation by fostering a culture of respect, implementing fair practices, and addressing power imbalances.

Is there a cultural aspect to how humiliation and humility are perceived?

Yes, cultural values can significantly influence the perception and value placed on humiliation and humility.

Can humility be learned from experiences of humiliation?

Yes, experiencing humiliation can sometimes lead to the development of humility if the experiences are reflected upon constructively.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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