brutal

adjective
bru·​tal | \ ˈbrü-tᵊl How to pronounce brutal (audio) \

Definition of brutal

1 : suitable to one who lacks intelligence, sensitivity, or compassion : befitting a brute: such as
a : cruel, cold-blooded a brutal attack
b : harsh, severe brutal weather
c : unpleasantly accurate and incisive the brutal truth
d : very bad or unpleasant a brutal mistake
e : grossly ruthless or unfeeling a brutal slander
2 archaic : typical of beasts : animal thee, Serpent … to me so friendly grown above the rest of brutal kind— John Milton

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from brutal

brutally \ ˈbrü-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce brutally (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for brutal

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 brutal in a Sentence

Sailors sometimes faced brutal punishments like whipping. a brutal struggle for survival in the wilderness The writer describes the dangers of drugs with brutal honesty. The movie is a brutal depiction of the war. The traffic was brutal on the way to work. I had a brutal headache this morning.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The concentration of people in camps in brutal conditions is the same across these situations. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The “concentration camp” language debate is the wrong fight," 13 July 2019 Polls say López Obrador’s approval rating has held steady at 66% to 72% despite the crackdown and reports of brutal conditions at the huge Siglo XXI migrant holding facility on Mexico’s southern border and other centers. Washington Post, "Mexican president gets little backlash for migrant crackdown," 8 July 2019 According to the Agence France-Presse, the remains have been worn to near skeletons because of the brutal conditions and brought down as part of a larger cleanup effort on the mountain. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "4 bodies recovered from Mount Everest as Nepal seeks help in identifying dead climbers," 10 June 2019 That players are losing vast sums of money because of the brutal working conditions? Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "50 Parting Thoughts From the 2019 French Open: Rafa, Barty and So Much More," 9 June 2019 The heat in France will be particularly brutal, forecasters said, as the nation's weather service Meteo France issued its highest-level danger alert. Editors, USA TODAY, "USA vs. France, Stonewall Forever, G-20 Summit: 5 things to know Friday," 28 June 2019 In the past, the high season for ragweed allergies lasted from late August through September, but Dr. Schussler points out that that due to changes in weather patterns, the season has gotten longer and more brutal for allergy sufferers. Marisa Cohen, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Relief From Fall Allergies, According to an Allergist," 19 June 2019 For most New Yorkers, a frozen Lake George signals the onset of winter and some of the year's most brutal weather. Gregory Leporati, Ars Technica, "Racing’s not just for rich guys—a look at the American grassroots scene," 13 June 2019 Every inning was brutal for the left-hander, who still dealt with the effects of the illness throughout the game. J.l. Kirven, Detroit Free Press, "Tommy Henry pulled off 'the gutsiest performance in college baseball'. Here's how," 11 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of brutal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for brutal

Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French, from Medieval Latin brutalis, from Latin brutus — more at brute

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brutal

Dictionary Entries near brutal

brut

Bruta

brutage

brutal

brutalise

brutalism

brutalitarian

Statistics for brutal

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brutal

The first known use of brutal was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brutal

brutal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of brutal

: extremely cruel or harsh
: very direct and accurate in a way that is harsh or unpleasant
informal : very bad or unpleasant

brutal

adjective
bru·​tal | \ ˈbrü-tᵊl How to pronounce brutal (audio) \

Kids Definition of brutal

: cruel and harsh brutal treatment

Other Words from brutal

brutally adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brutal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brutal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brutal

Spanish Central: Translation of brutal

Nglish: Translation of brutal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brutal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on brutal

What made you want to look up brutal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!