bes·​tial | \ ˈbes-chəl How to pronounce bestial (audio) , ˈbesh-, ˈbēs-, ˈbēsh- How to pronounce bestial (audio) \

Definition of bestial

1a : of or relating to beasts grotesque combinations of human and bestial forms
b : resembling a beast a bestial shape
2a : lacking intelligence or reason … the bestial man has no sense of right and wrong …— J. E. Hankins
b : marked by base (see base entry 3 sense 1a) or inhuman instincts or desires : brutal bestial violence … a scene of bestial intoxication …— Herman Melville

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Other Words from bestial

bestialize \ ˈbes-​chə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce bestial (audio) , ˈbesh-​ , ˈbēs-​ , ˈbēsh-​ \ transitive verb
bestially \ ˈbes-​chə-​lē How to pronounce bestial (audio) , ˈbesh-​ , ˈbēs-​ , ˈbēsh-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for bestial

brutal, brutish, bestial, feral mean characteristic of an animal in nature, action, or instinct. brutal applies to people, their acts, or their words and suggests a lack of intelligence, feeling, or humanity. a senseless and brutal war brutish stresses likeness to an animal in low intelligence, in base appetites, and in behavior based on instinct. brutish stupidity bestial suggests a state of degradation unworthy of humans and fit only for beasts. bestial depravity feral suggests the savagery or ferocity of wild animals. the struggle to survive unleashed their feral impulses

Examples of bestial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Such epiphanies, though bookended in Wright's novel between the bestial horrors of its first section and the abject bleakness of its third, are what give the novel its lasting glow. Gene Seymour, CNN, 26 May 2021 Lincoln’s opponents tarred him with racist and bestial characterizations. Calvin Schermerhorn, The Conversation, 6 Aug. 2020 Abolitionists claimed that the eloquence of slaves and Africans proved their equal humanity, but most Europeans had long taken for granted that black utterances were inherently inferior, even bestial. Fara Dabhoiwala, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2020 Some distance between the source and the story would have benefited the themes at play, which end up buried beneath punches, slurs and bestial masculinity. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2019 Late cast bronze sculptures look both botanical and bestial. Julianne Mcshane, New York Times, 29 Aug. 2019 Vaccination was also bestial, because humans were being poisoned with disgusting stuff from an animal. The Economist, 30 Aug. 2019 Preachers began to tell anecdotes about deceitful Jewish misers who consorted with the devil; artists began to visualize such tales in grotesque and frightening detail, endowing their Jewish villains with distinctively fleshy and bestial features. Sara Lipton, The New York Review of Books, 17 June 2019 Without relying on makeup or costuming, DeCaro’s extended transformation is a comedic tour de force as Gene becomes more and more bestial. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bestial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bestial

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bestial

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin bestialis, from bestia beast

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Time Traveler for bestial

Time Traveler

The first known use of bestial was in the 14th century

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Statistics for bestial

Last Updated

6 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bestial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for bestial



English Language Learners Definition of bestial

formal : resembling or suggesting an animal or beast : very cruel, violent, etc.


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