In "Q Who," while seeing a Borg Drone for the first time in Engineering, Q tells Picard that the invading Borg is "an enhanced humanoid" ("humanoid" as defined in the "Memory Alpha")

Now, Q is Q, and it's hard to disagree with a being of such intellect, but I always thought that the Borg were not humanoid. I think being part of a cyborg civilization disqualifies them from being humanoid.

In-universe answers only, please.

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    They’re shaped like humans. It’s a dictionary definition. “Having human form or characteristics” – Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. – Molag Bal Mar 9 '16 at 1:08
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    Androids are humanoid. Mannequins are humanoid. Vulcans are humanoid. Humanoid is an adjective, not a type of creature. And looking again, Merriam-Webster gives “humanoid” as a noun, meaning: “a humanoid being.” – Molag Bal Mar 9 '16 at 1:10
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    Androids are by definition (a robot with a human appearance) humanoid. – Mazura Mar 9 '16 at 1:19
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    This seems like a case where the question has a simple answer. If the Federation legal definition of "changeling" is "Founder of the Dominion," and someone else refers to "changelings in Keats" in a different episode, the obvious answer is that they are simply using a different definition. – Adamant Mar 9 '16 at 1:24
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    Why would we assume that there is a singular 24th century definition, a "the" definition? In context it seems quite clear that there are multiple definitions. For example, "deck" refers to part of a starship, but there is no indication that it does not also refer to a set of playing cards. – Adamant Mar 9 '16 at 1:28

Lets follow the definitions here:

From the "Memory Alpha" dictionary:

As generally understood by the United Federation of Planets, a humanoid is an intelligent, bilaterally symmetrical, bipedal lifeform in possession of an upright posture, two arms, two legs, hands, feet, one thorax, a neck, and a head with a brain located in it. Source

Since we can agree that Borg drones look like humans, the key here is the word "lifeform":

A lifeform is simply any living entity or organism. The study of lifeforms is known as biology, and, when dealing with alien lifeforms, could be further sub-categorized into xenobiology and xenology[...] A lifeform was not necessarily organic — which was to say carbon-based.source

since we don't really have 24th Century definition of the word "living", we can use our current definition:

not dead, having life, currently active or being used; having the form of a person who is alive source

putting those three things together Borg perfectly fit into those definition as they are alive -> then they are lifeform -> they have humanoid (XXI century definition) shape => they are Star Trek humanoids.


  • Thanks. I appreciate that you're the only person who felt that the 24th century definition for "humanoid" was applicable! – Ham Sandwich Mar 9 '16 at 17:19
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    no one said it wasn't acceptable, but you simply didn't put it in your question so people got confused. Its bit similar to asking "who was the most famous dark Force user in Star Wars" and then got annoyed that someone would say "Mace Windu played by Samuel L. Jackson", because they used different definition of "dark" – Yasskier Mar 9 '16 at 18:41
  • The Star Trek definition should have been assumed. But I figured the Borg weren't humanoid, and I suppose that they are, no matter what definition is used. So I'm partly to blame for not thinking this through sufficiently. Though I can't believe the OP needed to spell out what definition was to be considered. – Ham Sandwich Mar 9 '16 at 20:21
  • Rule of thumb: writing good question requires that you clearly explain what you have in mind. When you've noticed in comments that people were using current definition over the "Memory Alpha" one, you should put a link to it in your question. I haven't answered your question because I knew what ST "humanoid" was (i'm not even a big ST fan), but because you've put it in your comment that you are interested in ST definition, which made me take a look and do some logic here. – Yasskier Mar 9 '16 at 20:29
  • I guess I'm in the minority. I think it's obvious. – Ham Sandwich Mar 9 '16 at 20:31

This question hinges on the definition of “humanoid.” The Federation has its own definition, so let’s start with that one:

United Federation of Planets’ definition

According to Memory Alpha, the Federation uses a fairly specific definition of humanoid. I don’t have access to the exact wording of the Federation’s definition, so I’ll have to hope that Memory Alpha summarized it correctly in their article:

A humanoid is an intelligent, bilaterally symmetrical, bipedal lifeform in possession of an upright posture, two arms, two legs, hands, feet, one thorax, a neck, and a head with a brain located in it.

Now let’s look at a Borg drone. I included Memory Alpha articles wherever possible, but none of the links have surprising definitions:

  • Intelligent: It’s hard to say, while they’re plugged into the Collective. But if you remove one from the Collective (e.g. Seven of Nine), they exhibit intelligence.
  • Bilaterally symmetrical, bipedal: Yes.
  • Lifeform: I’d say the Borg are alive. This is perhaps debatable.
  • Upright posture, two arms, two legs, hands, feet, one thorax, a neck, and a head: Yes.
  • Brain: Yes. Seven of Nine was able to function outside the Collective, so they clearly did not remove her brain. Also, Memory Alpha shows a picture of a Borg drone with its brain exposed, which I decline to include here.

Overall, it looks like a Borg drone qualifies as humanoid under this definition. A couple points are debatable for a drone who’s in the Collective, but a former drone detached from the Collective is clearly humanoid.

Twenty-first century English

I don’t know what common usage is in the 24th century, but in this century, the definition is not very restrictive:

Having human form or characteristics

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

In other words, if it looks kind of like a human, you can say it’s a humanoid. This applies to a Borg drone.

Q’s definition

Whatever Q was saying, he was probably either correct or lying, since he presumably has enough knowledge to avoid being mistaken. He either categorizes the Borg as being humanoids by the Federation’s definition, or he was using a looser definition of the word.


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