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 An effort is underway to recall Oregon City’s embattled mayor, who’s faced criticism for downplaying the significance of police brutality against black people. oregonlive, "Oregon City mayor who downplayed police brutality faces recall effort," 23 June 2020 That turned out to be early this month, when police brutality against blacks touched off protests around the country. Washington Post, "Northam’s case for removing Lee statue was devised by a lawyer descended from slaves," 22 June 2020 In the era of the civil-rights movement, there was also this spectacle of brutality against black people. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "After Juneteenth," 20 June 2020 Greene sees a strong correlation between her anti-discrimination work and the racial identity that rests at the core of police brutality against African Americans. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Made for the moment: Wendy Greene, daughter of anti-discrimination pioneers, to present Angela Davis with Shuttlesworth award," 19 June 2020 At one point in season 3, the partners sit around a table ruefully discussing the epidemic of police brutality against unarmed African Americans. Darren Franich,, "The death and life of the lawyer show," 18 June 2020 Another wave of protests condemning police brutality against Black men and women occurred over the weekend following the Friday night death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, who was killed by two white police officers. Asia Ewart,, "Video Footage Shows Rayshard Brooks’ Final Moments Before Police Shot & Killed Him," 15 June 2020 In 2016, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans. Dallas News, "Despite Donald Trump’s stand, some leaders now support NFL players kneeling during national anthem," 15 June 2020 While playing for the San Francisco 49ers, former NFL star Colin Kaepernick knelt during the US national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans. Calum Trenaman, CNN, "Real Madrid's Marcelo shows support for Black Lives Matter movement in goal celebration," 15 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for brutality

Time Traveler

The first known use of brutality was in 1550

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Statistics for brutality

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brutality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for brutality


How to pronounce brutality (audio)

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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