Is such a sentence correct: Humans destroyed the animal in an inhumane way. Can I use the words "destroy" and "inhumane" in such a construction? Because I think using the word kill is much better. thanks.

closed as primarily opinion-based by jimm101, FumbleFingers, lbf, Jason Bassford, alwayslearning Nov 5 '18 at 7:52

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    The word destroyed is in frequent use. Please see "Army dogs faced with being destroyed reprieved." (BBC). The word makes the context clear, but if you use killed the animals may have perished accidentally, or in combat. – Weather Vane Nov 4 '18 at 13:55
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    The sentence is fine, though “humans” is a bit abstract and setting off with it makes the whole thing feel alien. Usage note: destroyed for killed as it pertains to animals is usually reserved for situations where a domestic or otherwise unthreatening or well-viewed animal is intentionally (and usually clinically) put down due to that specific animal somehow becoming a threat to people. For example a dog contacting rabies is often “destroyed” so it can’t hurt anyone or pass the disease. Or a local wild animal which is usually gentle kills someone. Etc. – Dan Bron Nov 4 '18 at 13:57
  • Argh, I hate autocorrect! contracting rabies. – Dan Bron Nov 4 '18 at 14:11
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    The notorious Lord Chief Justice of England, Rayner Goddard, was once asked if it was humane to execute convicted murderers if it could be shown that they had a mental or psychopathic disorder, one example being John Reginald Christie. He is said to have replied "In cases it would be better if they were destroyed". – Michael Harvey Nov 4 '18 at 14:44
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    @MichaelHarvey Yes, that's a powerful example of the same type of the clinical distancing, agency-stripping purpose the word is used for. – Dan Bron Nov 4 '18 at 14:53

At first glance...

Humans destroyed the animal in an inhumane way.

...using destroyed seems counterintuitive in this context (with inhumane) because I'm familiar with these definitions and uses of destroy:

1.3 Kill (a sick, savage, or unwanted animal) by humane means.

‘their terrier was destroyed after the attack’


destroy (verb): to officially kill an animal because it is dangerous or very ill


Canines that have usually caused grievous bodily harm to either humans or other animals through mauling are usually seized and euthanized ('destroyed' in British legal terms).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_euthanasia (the fourth bullet point under Reasons for euthanasia).

Codes of practice seek to ensure animal welfare by specifying the most appropriate humane method of destroying animals to minimise pain and suffering.

https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/topics/plants-and-animals/permits-and-licences/Native_animals_in_the_wild/Permits_to_Destroy_Wildlife (under Codes of practice).

This reference shows both proposed verbs being used in a 'humane' context:

This Pennsylvania statute provides the prohibited and authorized methods to kill or "destroy" animals within the state.

However, forms of the latter--"destroy"--are used in these legal contexts (found on the same page):

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law.

§ 328.301. Prohibited means of destruction of animals

No animal shall be destroyed by means of the following:

(1) A high altitude decompression chamber or decompression device.

(2) Unacceptable agents and methods published in the most current version of the American Veterinary Medical Association's Guidelines on Euthanasia.

(3) Drowning.

(4) Chloroform, ether, halothane or fluothane.

(5) Carbon monoxide gas from any source.


Therefore, destroy is used in a 'humane' context (not to say it is used more often than kill or other words which may be considered less acceptable for whatever reasons).

That being said, considering the sentence again...

Humans destroyed the animal in an inhumane way.

That is a powerful statement (in my opinion).

Humans destroyed...

Because...why else use humans as the subject? Couldn't the 'destroyers' be narrowed down more than that? Officer: Can you describe the perpetrators, mam? Mam: Yes! They were humans!

So, as the sentence is worded, it seems to me that the verb destroy is used to convey the most basic meaning of it (the first meaning given in the first link above):

End the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it.

Humans destroy--humans act in inhumane ways.

Perhaps it seems that way only to me, but I don't think human(s) destroy(ed) is the best combination of words to use in order to simply state, without broader implications, that some people killed an animal in an inhumane way.

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