In the course of both working on some of my fictional creature designs and thinking about other creators' own fictional creatures, I've come to realize the utility of having consistent terminology for clarifying the specifics of a creature's morphological humanoidness. After all, while both Kryptonians and krogans are "humanoid" in appearance, they are so in very different ways. And in my experience, already existing constructions such as "vaguely humanoid" appear to be inconsistently used to mean several things that may or may not be included in some of the other usages.

To that end, I ask this: What would be the best way to design a standardized "humanoidness classification system"? Specific points of concern include the following non-exhaustive list (which may be amended in the future in response to feedback):

  1. Number of categories: How many categories of "humanoidness" should there be?
  2. Naming of categories: How should the categories be named?

PS: I will provide my current proposal for such a system as an "answer" to this question, to keep the comments specifically about it separate from comments specifically about this post.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Mołot, Azuaron, L.Dutch, Hohmannfan, kingledion Mar 22 '17 at 17:09

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ What is the audience for such a system? Consider, as an example, the differences between the common names for plants and animals and their scientific names. The former comes from the perspective of someone observing the creatures, while the latter comes from a scientific name to create perfectly distinct bins for each species. Also, any time someone suggests a new standard, I feel obliged to reference XKCD on the topic. That doesn't mean a new standard shouldn't exist, but the effort to create that new standard should at least be aware of that XKCD effect. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 22 '17 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon: The intended audience is scientists, other academics, and anyone who shares the former two groups' interest in consistent formal terminology. Also, regarding the XKCD effect, I am well aware of it, but AFAIK my proposed standard below is pretty much the first ever attempt at actually giving both distinct and consistent definitions for the various terms that either already existed or are easily derived by combining existing words/affixes. $\endgroup$ – MarqFJA87 Mar 22 '17 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 22 '17 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I was not a close voter, but I think I can speak to a likely concern they may have. StackExchange is a question and answer formatted site. There are some kinds of questions that are very amenable to that format, and there are other questions which are a poor match. Coming up with a standard typically involves large amounts of back and froth conversation, which is not something StackExchange is particularly well suited for. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 22 '17 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon: If that is true, and my question indeed is ill-suited for posting on SE, then where do you suggest I take it to, then? $\endgroup$ – MarqFJA87 Mar 22 '17 at 17:36

Here I provide my current attempt at a standardized humanoidness classification system. The categories are named by combining "humanoid" with a suitable prefix. Each category will include both a definition and at least one example. Also, note that the term "morphology" and its derivatives as used in the definitions refer strictly to external/superficial morphology; internal structure of the humanoid plays no part in this system per se, though of course one could adapt most if not all of the terminology to describe the humanoidness of a humanoid's internal structure in terms of their non-microscopic morphology (they could have radically different microscopic structures and their cells be all made of silicon-based substances instead of carbon-based ones for all we know).

Finally, I would very much appreciate any constructive feedback for improving/refining this system. Even as I write it down, I realize that there likely to be several flaws in my methodology, which I hope to pinpoint and address.

Axis 1: Unity/separation of humanoid and nonhumanoid morphology

  • Unimorphic: There is no clear division of humanoid and nonhumanoid morphology into separate tagmata. Example: Typical catgirl portrayals, where feline traits can be found in most if not all body parts (e.g. even the torso has body fur covering portions of it).
  • Dichomorphic: Humanoid morphology and nonhumanoid morphology are limited to separate tagmata. Example: Centaurs.

Axis 2: Degrees of humanoidness

  • Euhumanoid:
    • Prefix: eu-, meaning "true, genuine".
    • Definition: Practically indistinguishable from a human in morphology. More technically speaking, the creature is so morphologically similar to member species of the genus Homo that it could easily be mistaken for belonging to either an existent species of Homo or to a wholly new one that they're representative of. Any nonhuman morphological traits they may have are so minor that even without preparations whatsoever, they could be easily mistaken for being the result of either simple cosmetics or a natural medical abnormality by an unwary observer.
    • Example: Kryptonians, Middle-earth Dwarves (size difference is within the range of plausibility to cover it up as the result of a medical condition), most gods and demons from Oh My Goddess! (the only nonhuman trait in their morphology is their possession of natural facial markings, which visually look no different from actual make-up or tattoos).
  • Penehumanoid:
    • Prefix: pene-, meaning "almost".
    • Definition: Most of their morphology is indistinguishable from a human; what nonhuman morphological traits they do have are minor enough that they could easily pass for a human under cursory examination from a distance, and need only relatively minimal preparations to pass an up-close non-thorough examination.
    • Example: The Diclonius race from Elfen Lied (they need only an ordinary hat to cover up the horn-like bony growths on their heads), the Zentradi in miclonized form (the only difference from human morphology is a wider variety of natural skin and hair colors, such as green and violet; this can be masked with the appropiate kind of make-up, or alternatively claimed to be extensive make-up).
  • Quasihumanoid:
    • Prefix: quasi-, meaning "similar to".
    • Definition: Most of their morphology is indistinguishable from a human; what nonhuman morphological traits they do have are significantly diveregent enough from the human norm to require some considerable preparation to disguise.
    • Example: Saiyans (they have monkey-like tails, which could be easily wrapped around their waists like makeshift belts for convenience; this would make it trivially easy to hide under clothes, provided they conceal the midriff and are baggy enough to both obscure their body's outline and not be uncomfortably constricting).
  • Parahumanoid:
    • Prefix: para-, meaning "beside, near, resembling".
    • Definition: Their morphology is largely conformant with the human baseline, but deviates significantly enough that the humanoid requires extensive preparations to pass for a human under even cursory examination.
    • Example: Cardassians (extensive makeup and/or non-trivial surgical intervention would be needed), Darkstalkers character Felicia (she might be able to pass without a disguise in an anime convention, but on your everyday public street she'd need something like a really baggy dress with long sleeves and skirt plus large gloves and boots to hide her possession of cat-like hands, feet and tail, extensive body fur, and large ears that are on the top of her head like a cat instead of on the sides like a human).
  • Semihumanoid:
    • Prefix: semi-, meaning "half, partial, incomplete, somewhat".
    • Definition: Their morphology is largely conformant with the human baseline, but deviates so strongly that only relatively extreme measures - such as non-trivial magical alteration/disguise, invasive surgery or highly advanced technology - could help in concealing the humanoid's nonhuman nature.
    • Example: giants (as in, those big enough that you cannot ascribe their size to the medical condition known as gigantism), any being that only fails a "higher" category (up to an including even "euhumanoid") because they're small enough to fit completely in the palm of an adult human-sized hand.
  • Pseudohumanoid:
    • Prefix: pseudo-, meaning "false".
    • Definition: Their morphology conforms to the general body plan of a human, but otherwise cannot be mistaken for even a hominid under even cursory examination.
    • Example: krogan.

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