callous

adjective
cal·​lous | \ ˈka-ləs How to pronounce callous (audio) \

Definition of callous

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : being hardened and thickened
b : having calluses callous hands
2a : feeling no emotion
b : feeling or showing no sympathy for others : hard-hearted a callous indifference to suffering

callous

verb
cal·​lous | \ ˈka-ləs How to pronounce callous (audio) \
calloused; callousing; callouses

Definition of callous (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make callous hands calloused by hard manual labor

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Other Words from callous

Adjective

callously adverb
callousness noun

Did You Know?

Adjective

A callus is a hard, thickened area of skin that develops usually from friction or irritation over time. Such a hardened area often leaves one less sensitive to the touch, so it's no surprise that the adjective callous, in addition to describing skin that is hard and thick, can also be used as a synonym for "harsh" or "insensitive." Both callus and callous derive via Middle English from Latin. The figurative sense of callous entered English almost 300 years after the literal sense, and Robert Louis Stevenson used it aptly when he wrote, in Treasure Island, "But, indeed, from what I saw, all these buccaneers were as callous as the sea they sailed on."

Examples of callous in a Sentence

Adjective … under Orton's own companionable charm there was something hard and callous, the result no doubt of a loveless upbringing … — Benedict Nightingale, New York Times Book Review, 10 May 1987 … the scenes involving the snotty, callous dean ring false right from the start … — Pauline Kael, New Yorker, 8 Apr. 1985 Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. — Dylan Thomas, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," in Quite Early One Morning1954 a selfish and callous young man a callous refusal to help the poor
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And given the worsening health crisis in Houston, his comments came off as particularly callous. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Houston Astros owner's shameless greed is a reminder of how awful the organization is," 25 June 2020 For a company that prides itself on cultivating human connection, Airbnb’s approach to laying off 534 contractors with its partner agency was remarkably callous. Anna Furman, Wired, "Airbnb Quietly Fired Hundreds of Contract Workers. I'm One of Them," 23 June 2020 Both events have emerged as representations of the historically callous and violent treatment of African Americans by police. Joe Guillen, Freep.com, "From 1967 to George Floyd: Detroit activists connect the dots to fight inequality," 14 June 2020 Just a few days later, the callous killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer as three other officers looked on set off a series of protests in the U.S. that reinvigorated movements for racial justice around the world. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Bad Bunny Speaks Out on Black Lives Matter Protests: 'Living in a World Like This, None of Us Can Breathe'," 12 June 2020 Mr Trump’s callous response has widened the empathy gap separating him from Mr Biden into a chasm. The Economist, "Model voters Meet our US 2020 election forecasting model," 11 June 2020 Watching one more -- not just one -- but one more black man murdered in the most callous and public way. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Robin DiAngelo: How 'white fragility' supports racism and how whites can stop it," 7 June 2020 The Chinese Communist Party’s callous attempts to exploit George Floyd’s tragic death for its own political gain will fail. NBC News, "George Floyd's memorial service in North Carolina," 6 June 2020 This is not the product of callous indifference but the power of empire. Gary Younge, The New York Review of Books, "What Black America Means to Europe," 6 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His hands are raw, his feet are calloused, but Monday was a new day, a new challenge, inspiring new hope. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "New York Mets coach Hensley Meulens is trying to keep Curacao fed one meal at a time," 27 Apr. 2020 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, "Solo rower takes epic, 336-day journey across Pacific from Washington to Australia," 14 June 2019

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1769, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for callous

Adjective and Verb

Middle English, from Latin callosus, from callum, callus callous skin

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Time Traveler for callous

Time Traveler

The first known use of callous was in the 14th century

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Statistics for callous

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Callous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for callous

callous

adjective
How to pronounce callous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of callous

disapproving : not feeling or showing any concern about the problems or suffering of other people

callous

adjective
cal·​lous | \ ˈka-ləs How to pronounce callous (audio) \

Kids Definition of callous

: feeling or showing no sympathy for others a callous refusal to help

callous

adjective
cal·​lous | \ ˈkal-əs How to pronounce callous (audio) \

Medical Definition of callous

1 : being hardened and thickened
2 : having calluses

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More from Merriam-Webster on callous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for callous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with callous

Spanish Central: Translation of callous

Nglish: Translation of callous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about callous

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