bru·​tal·​i·​ty | \brü-ˈta-lə-tē \
plural brutalities

Definition of brutality 

1 : the quality or state of being brutal

2 : a brutal act or course of action

Keep scrolling for more

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

If the show continues to stick close to the books — one season per novel is planned — Lila and Elena will experience, in ever more serious ways, the brutality of their neighborhood. Anna North, Vox, "My Brilliant Friend pulls back the curtain on women’s lives. What it reveals is dark and violent.," 20 Nov. 2018 But for one New York City woman, there are few better ways to see the world than from the quiet brutality of open water. Condé Nast Traveler, "Women Who Travel Podcast: A Record-Setting Swimmer on Seeing the World by Water," 20 Aug. 2018 Hoffman isn’t alone: Ms. Perry’s novel is a master class in the history of human brutality. Elizabeth Lowry, WSJ, "‘Melmoth’ Review: The Wanderer Returns," 11 Oct. 2018 Kim rules with extreme brutality, making his nation among the worst human rights violators in the world., "Atrocities under Kim Jong Un: Indoctrination, prison gulags, executions," 13 June 2018 There is no excuse for police brutality and racial discrimination. Alysha Tsuji, For The Win, "Bucks players support Sterling Brown after police release arrest video," 23 May 2018 The praise for the North Korean leader is a dramatic shift for the U.S., which has long criticized the Kim family dynasty for brutality and deceit. Fortune, "Trump Says North Korea's Kim Jong Un Has Been 'Very Honorable'," 24 Apr. 2018 Instead of renegade robots preying on humans, the show zeroed in on the nascent humanity of these artificial constructs, contrasted with the brutality inflicted upon them by people indulging their darkest impulses and fantasies. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Westworld' remains easy to admire, harder to like in new season," 19 Apr. 2018 That ISIS’s penchant for brutality is matched by its acumen for efficient bureaucracy. Longreads, "The Top 5 Longreads of the Week," 6 Apr. 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.

See More

First Known Use of brutality

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brutality

Statistics for brutality

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brutality

The first known use of brutality was in 1550

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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