Man’s inhumanity to man


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Man's inhumanity to man'?

Literal meaning.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Man's inhumanity to man'?

This phrase, which is always used with a sense of regret, was coined by Robert Burns and used in his poem From Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge, 1785:

‘Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, –
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Trend of man ‘s inhumanity to man in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.