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Mankind vs. Humankind: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Mankind refers to the human species collectively, often used historically, while humankind is a modern, gender-neutral term for all human beings.

Key Differences

Mankind is an age-old term that has traditionally been used to refer to all human beings collectively, often carrying historical and literary connotations. Humankind serves a similar collective noun but is considered more inclusive and gender-neutral, reflecting contemporary sensitivity to language.
While "mankind" has been used extensively in literature and historical documents, "humankind" has gained popularity in recent years as a substitute that avoids the male-centric "man" prefix. Both words describe the human species as a whole, encompassing all of its members without distinction.
The word "mankind" originates from Old English and has a more archaic ring to it, which can lend a certain gravitas in specific contexts. On the other hand, "humankind" feels more modern and is preferred in academic and professional settings to promote equality and neutrality.
Mankind is often seen in older philosophical and religious texts to represent humans, especially when discussing the achievements and challenges of our species. Humankind is used similarly but is often chosen to emphasize unity and collective responsibility among all humans.
Using "mankind" might evoke a sense of the past and tradition, while "humankind" speaks to a future-oriented perspective that seeks to include and represent all genders equally in the human narrative.

Comparison Chart


Comes from Old English "mann" and "cynn".
Comes from "human" and the suffix "-kind".

Usage Trend

Historically prevalent, now less common.
Increasingly used for modern inclusivity.

Gender Implication

Implies a male-centric view.
Gender-neutral and inclusive.


Traditional and historical.
Modern and forward-thinking.

Linguistic Preference

Favored in older texts and some idiomatic uses.
Preferred in contemporary, formal writing.

Mankind and Humankind Definitions


The human race as a whole.
Mankind has always been fascinated by the stars.


All human beings collectively, with an inclusive connotation.
Climate change is a threat to humankind as a whole.


Humanity, especially referring to its male members.
Mankind has walked on the Moon.


The collective of human beings without gender specification.
Advancements in medicine benefit humankind across the globe.


Used to denote human beings since time immemorial.
Mankind has overcome countless challenges through history.


The human species, emphasizing equality and unity.
Humankind has the ability to solve complex problems when united.


The totality of human persons.
Diseases like the plague have threatened mankind many times.


Refers to all people, emphasizing gender neutrality.
Peace is a desire shared by all of humankind.


All human beings collectively, historically focused.
The invention of the wheel was a pivotal moment for mankind.


A modern term for humanity.
The digital revolution has transformed the way humankind communicates.


The human race; humankind. See Usage Note at man.


The human race
"humankind's God-given creativity" (New York Times).


Men as opposed to women.


The human race; mankind, humanity; Homo sapiens.


The human race in its entirety.




Men collectively, as opposed to all women.


All of the inhabitants of the earth;
All the world loves a lover
She always used `humankind' because `mankind' seemed to slight the women


Why use humankind over mankind?

Humankind is preferred for its gender-neutral and inclusive connotation.

Can mankind and humankind be used interchangeably?

Yes, they can, but the choice of term can affect the tone and inclusivity of the message.

Is mankind outdated?

While still in use, mankind is considered less contemporary than humankind.

Does the use of humankind avoid sexism?

Yes, it's considered to avoid the male-centric implication of mankind.

Was mankind ever gender-specific?

Traditionally, it was used broadly, but it implicitly centers on "man."

What does mankind mean?

Mankind refers to all human beings collectively, often with historical usage.

What does humankind mean?

Humankind also refers to all human beings but is a more modern, inclusive term.

Is humankind politically correct?

Yes, it is considered politically correct due to its inclusiveness.

In legal documents, which term is more appropriate?

Humankind is increasingly used for its precision and inclusivity.

Is humankind a new word?

Relatively, it's newer than mankind and reflects current language trends.

Is mankind still acceptable in academic writing?

While acceptable, the trend is moving towards using humankind.

Are there synonyms for mankind and humankind?

Yes, synonyms include humanity, the human race, and people.

How does the United Nations refer to humanity?

The UN uses both terms but has shown a preference for humankind in recent years.

Do religious texts use mankind or humankind?

Most older religious texts use mankind, but contemporary translations may use humankind.

How do I decide whether to use mankind or humankind?

Consider the context, audience, and whether gender neutrality is a priority.

Are there contexts where mankind is preferred?

Yes, in historical, religious, or literary contexts, mankind may be preferred.

Can the shift from mankind to humankind impact language?

Yes, it reflects and influences broader social changes towards equality.

Do all cultures differentiate between mankind and humankind?

The distinction is primarily in English; other languages have their equivalents.

Has the usage of mankind declined?

The use of mankind has decreased in favor of more inclusive language.

Is humankind recognized by major dictionaries?

Yes, humankind is well-recognized and defined in contemporary dictionaries.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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