What Does Milk of Human Kindness Mean?

The Milk of Human Kindness Meaning

Definition: Sympathy, care, and friendliness.

Origin of Milk of Human Kindness

This expression comes from the English playwright William Shakespeare. He used it in his play Macbeth, in the year 1605.

In the play, Lady Macbeth tells her husband,

  • Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o’ th’ Milke of humane kindnesse.

In this passage, Lady Macbeth was not sure if her husband would be able to act as ruthlessly as he might have to as king. He was too filled with the milk of human kindness.

Examples of Milk of Human Kindness

milk of human kindness macbeth meaningHere is an example of a math professor using the expression with a student who recently got back to school after experiencing a death in the family.

Student: Hello, Mrs. Cooper. I’m ready to take the test.

Teacher: Are you sure? I heard about the death in your family. You don’t need to take the test now. We can reschedule it at any point later in the semester, so you have time to grieve and time to study and prepare.

Student: Really? That would be great! Thank you so much! I expected you to force me to take the test.

Teacher: Well, I’m not completely devoid of the milk of human kindness. I care about the wellbeing of my students, and I want you all to succeed. And if something happens that is very challenging for any of my students, I want to try to help them if I can. You can come to me if you need to talk, or if there’s anything that I can do.

Student: Thank you!

caribou the milk of human kindnessIn this example, two friends are discussing what happened to one of them over the weekend.

Monica: I had the worst weekend!

Janice: Oh no! What happened?

Monica: I was walking home alone because I didn’t have money to take the bus, and this strange man started following me. I kept walking faster and faster to try to get away, but then he started running after me! I was so scared!

Janice: That’s terrifying! How did you escape?

Monica: This bus driver saw what was happening and let me ride the bus even though I had no fare.

Janice: Wow! It’s great to see that the milk of human kindness still exists!

Monica: True!

More Examples

This excerpt is from a book review. It is saying that people who both read the book and are not very nice may like one of the characters.

  • Readers deficient in the milk of human kindness may warm to tart-tongued Maja. –Denver Post

The second excerpt is about how people are not friendly towards child abusers.

  • For many of us, the milk of human kindness evaporates swiftly when children are violated. –Chicago Tribune


The idiom the milk of human kindness is another way to refer to compassion.