bru·​tal | \ ˈbrü-tᵊl How to pronounce brutal (audio) \

Definition of brutal

1 : suitable to one who lacks intelligence, sensitivity, or compassion : befitting a brute: such as
a : cruel, cold-blooded a brutal attack
b : harsh, severe brutal weather
c : unpleasantly accurate and incisive the brutal truth
d : very bad or unpleasant a brutal mistake
e : grossly ruthless or unfeeling a brutal slander
2 archaic : typical of beasts : animal thee, Serpent … to me so friendly grown above the rest of brutal kind— John Milton

Other Words from brutal

brutally \ ˈbrü-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce brutal (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for brutal

brutal, brutish, bestial, feral mean characteristic of an animal in nature, action, or instinct. brutal applies to people, their acts, or their words and suggests a lack of intelligence, feeling, or humanity. a senseless and brutal war brutish stresses likeness to an animal in low intelligence, in base appetites, and in behavior based on instinct. brutish stupidity bestial suggests a state of degradation unworthy of humans and fit only for beasts. bestial depravity feral suggests the savagery or ferocity of wild animals. the struggle to survive unleashed their feral impulses

Examples of brutal in a Sentence

Sailors sometimes faced brutal punishments like whipping. a brutal struggle for survival in the wilderness The writer describes the dangers of drugs with brutal honesty. The movie is a brutal depiction of the war. The traffic was brutal on the way to work. I had a brutal headache this morning. See More
Recent Examples on the Web For the half-million Los Angeles County residents who take the bus each day, waiting at a bus stop with no shade structure can be brutal. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2022 The offense was brutal, to say the least, in the red zone. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2022 The Big Ten released its conference men's basketball schedule on Thursday and the Hoosiers will finish with a February and March that could be brutal. Dustin Dopirak, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Sep. 2022 Bay Bridge traffic was brutal, so the player decided to take BART. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Sep. 2022 Broadcast news can be brutal on one’s personal life. Rodney Ho, ajc, 8 Sep. 2022 Alabama’s 55-0 win over the defending Mountain West champions was, at times, brutal. Michael Casagrande |, al, 4 Sep. 2022 Myanmar’s military, also known the Tatmadaw, has been brutal in its recent crackdown of opposition forces. Regine Cabato, Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2022 What followed was a gory display of a brutal death as Aemma bled out. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 24 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brutal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of brutal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for brutal

Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French, from Medieval Latin brutalis, from Latin brutus — more at brute

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Time Traveler for brutal

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The first known use of brutal was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Brutal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for brutal


bru·​tal | \ ˈbrü-tᵊl How to pronounce brutal (audio) \

Kids Definition of brutal

: cruel and harsh brutal treatment

Other Words from brutal

brutally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on brutal

Nglish: Translation of brutal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brutal for Arabic Speakers


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