bru·​tal·​i·​ty | \ brü-ˈta-lə-tē How to pronounce brutality (audio) \
plural brutalities

Definition of brutality

1 : the quality or state of being brutal
2 : a brutal act or course of action

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Examples of brutality in a Sentence

the brutalities of a prison the police were accused of brutality for using excessive force in making arrests

Recent Examples on the Web

Many people viewed his criticism of the NFL’s inaction as a condemnation of the stand football players were taking against police brutality in African-American communities. Julie Jargon, WSJ, "Papa John’s Mandates Diversity Training as Founder Continues Push for Control," 24 Aug. 2018 Last year, Geragos helped negotiate a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal between Nike and Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player known for inspiring other players to protest police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues. Christopher Weber, The Seattle Times, "Celebrity lawyer Geragos linked to Avenatti extortion case," 26 Mar. 2019 Since the transition, Myanmar has prosecuted journalists for covering military brutality, and a violent army campaign has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority, to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Niharika Mandhana, WSJ, "Myanmar Court Sentences Two Men to Death for Killing of Suu Kyi Aide," 15 Feb. 2019 Her Twitter account is a steady churn of support and mutual admiration for like-minded liberals, salted with signal boosts of stories about the Flint water crisis, the Israel-Palestine conflict, police brutality, immigration. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Rashida Tlaib Isn’t Waiting to Get to Congress to Help Other Women," 20 Sep. 2018 In that first book, a villager named Heloise sees the Order’s horrific brutality, and accidentally invites an evil presence into the world, bringing destruction to her village. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Here’s 7 new sci-fi and fantasy novels coming out this September to check out," 15 Sep. 2018 Of the eight books, students are only meant to read two, and only two of them center around police brutality, which is a very important topic at this time. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "South Carolina Police Union Whines About Police Brutality Novel The Hate U Give Being on A School's Summer Reading List," 4 July 2018 Men, women and children languished there in conditions of almost unimaginable squalor, brutality, overcrowding, starvation, verminous infestation and neglect. Patrick Mcgrath, New York Times, "A Dumping Ground for the Poor, the Criminal and the Mad," 28 June 2018 Meanwhile, gun violence, police brutality, racial profiling, hate crimes, poverty, deportations, and attacks on civil liberties continue to be everyday realities for people of color. Karen Dolan, Fortune, "These 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills Send the Wrong Message on Race and Violence," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brutality.' 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 brutality

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for brutality

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for brutality

The first known use of brutality was in 1550

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More Definitions for brutality



English Language Learners Definition of brutality

: cruel, harsh, and usually violent treatment of another person


bru·​tal·​i·​ty | \ brü-ˈta-lə-tē How to pronounce brutality (audio) \
plural brutalities

Kids Definition of brutality

1 : the quality of being cruel and harsh … she wept and importuned Heaven with a recital of their brutality.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild
2 : a cruel and harsh act or course of action the brutalities of prison

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Comments on brutality

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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