Humanist, Related Words

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The word “umanista,” which designated a specific type of scholar, came into use in Italy in 1538. Concerning this point we refer the reader to the observations of Augusto Campana in his 1946 article, “The Origin of the Word ‘Humanist’”. The first humanists would not have recognized themselves by that name, which entered common usage only much later. Related words such as “humanistische” (humanistic), according to studies by Walter Rüegg, came into use in 1784, and “humanismus” (humanism) became common following the works of Niethammer in 1808. It is not until the middle of the last century that we find the term “humanism” circulating in almost all languages. We are speaking, then, of recent designations and interpretations of phenomena that were experienced by their protagonists quite differently than the way they have since been interpreted in the histology and cultural history of the previous century.