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

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 Protests against the bill swelled throughout the summer as reports of police brutality against demonstrations and authorities’ initial unwillingness to withdraw the bill fueled further protest demands. Molpasorn Shoowong, NBC News, 1 July 2022 Since the death of Patrick Lyoya, numerous protests have taken place in Grand Rapids, a city with a long history of police brutality against Black residents. Essence, 15 June 2022 Led by the Equal Justice Initiative, the soil from these locations is housed at an exhibit at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama, which showcases brutality against Black people in America, including slavery and incarceration. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 June 2022 The series confronted hot-button topics head-on with stories centered on racial and cultural divides, including the use of the N-word, the election and presidency of Donald Trump and police brutality against Black people. Maggie Shannon, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2022 There’s a non-graphic incidence of child brutality against Joan in the beginning of the book that, although horrifying, Stringfellow uses to lay the groundwork for the long-term growth and redemption of both Joan and the perpetrator. Leah Tyler, ajc, 21 Mar. 2022 One of the group’s first acts was to organize a patrol to monitor allegations of police harassment and brutality against Native Americans who had settled in Minneapolis. Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2022 These were the years of Trumpism, of unashamed white-supremacist politics, of unending police brutality against Black people. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2021 However, several years prior in 2017, Blank had vetoed a request to include a plaque that would describe Lincoln’s brutality against Indigenous peoples. Sylvia Goodman,, 28 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of brutality

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About brutality

Time Traveler for brutality

Time Traveler

The first known use of brutality was in 1550

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near brutality




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for brutality

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Brutality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for brutality


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

More from Merriam-Webster on brutality

Nglish: Translation of brutality for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brutality for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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