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

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Other Words from brutal

brutally \ ˈbrü-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce brutal (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web But the isolation from the pandemic lock-down came abruptly and was brutal. oregonlive, 6 June 2021 Dementia is brutal, unforgiving, heartbreaking and exhausting. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, 4 June 2021 But superteam logic is brutal, unsentimental and sometimes ugly. New York Times, 2 June 2021 The Taliban’s ability to bring order, however brutal, to much of Afghanistan in the 1990s remains the source of their strength in rural areas where parts of the population share many of their values. WSJ, 31 May 2021 Life may be brutal, but Lawson proves that even a maddening battle with an insurance company can be fertile ground for comedy. Washington Post, 27 May 2021 The Central American nation, which grappled with thousands of disappearances during its brutal civil war, faces a similar issue three decades later, The Washington Post recently reported — only now, the threats come from gangs and drug cartels. Washington Post, 24 May 2021 After the Communist Party took power in mainland China in 1949, following a brutal civil war, the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan. Ben Westcott, CNN, 24 May 2021 Cabo Ledo, Angola — Best for Surfing Sealed off from international travel for decades following the brutal civil war, Angola is slowly becoming more accessible with peaceful politics and relaxed visa systems. Melanie Van Zyl, Travel + Leisure, 16 May 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for brutal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for brutal

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Brutal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brutal. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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

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