bru·​tal·​ize | \ ˈbrü-tᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce brutalize (audio) \
brutalized; brutalizing

Definition of brutalize

transitive verb

1 : to make brutal, unfeeling, or inhuman temperaments brutalized by poverty and disease
2 : to treat brutally an accord not to brutalize prisoners of war

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from brutalize

brutalization \ ˌbrü-​tᵊl-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce brutalization (audio) \ noun

Examples of brutalize in a Sentence

a young man brutalized by the experience of war She claimed she had been sexually brutalized.

Recent Examples on the Web

Who is going to make the argument that this poor, abused and brutalized girl wouldn't have been safer in U.S. detention than with a rapist? Fox News, "Jay Sekulow: Mueller investigation needs to end 'very soon'," 9 Aug. 2018 As Megerian wrote, the deciding voice in that debate seems likely to belong to the one senator who has been a victim of torture, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was brutalized as a POW in Vietnam. David Lauter,, "The Trump administration sure does sell books," 20 Apr. 2018 During this time, racial tensions in Texas were at a breaking point, with white community members attacking, brutalizing, and killing Tejanx people. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "Who Was Jovita Idár, the Radical Muckraking Mexican-American Journalist?," 12 Oct. 2018 Decades later, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and began to brutalize Kuwaitis, George Bush never wavered. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Jim Baker's Eulogy for His Close Friend, George H.W. Bush," 6 Dec. 2018 Police investigations and court proceedings can be brutalizing, forcing victims to recount what happened to them over and over and over to various people who sometimes may only partially believe what happened to them. Kelly Gonsalves, Teen Vogue, "Lindsay Lohan Said #MeToo Makes Women “Look Weak”," 9 Aug. 2018 The Question was a ruthless, faceless detective who dressed like a noir hero and brutalized criminals. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Steve Ditko’s Ordinary People," 10 July 2018 Defiant, Billy wears Lady Gaga-style costumes to school, and is brutalized for his trouble. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Freak Show,’ the Boy Who Would be Homecoming Queen," 11 Jan. 2018 His conservative supporters, constituting about half of the country, have zealously rallied around him in his defense; the other half of the country, brutalized by Erdogan, profoundly resents him. Soner Cagaptay, Time, "Four Things to Watch in Turkey's Elections," 21 June 2018

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

circa 1704, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brutalize

Statistics for brutalize

Last Updated

8 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brutalize

The first known use of brutalize was circa 1704

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brutalize



English Language Learners Definition of brutalize

: to cause (someone) to lose ordinary human kindness or feelings
: to treat (someone) in a very harsh and usually violent way

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brutalize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brutalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brutalize

Spanish Central: Translation of brutalize

Nglish: Translation of brutalize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on brutalize

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


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!