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 That callous indifference has become the default method among university bureaucrats. Greg Dumas, National Review, 25 Apr. 2021 Speaker Aaron Adams said Floyd’s murder was cold, calm and callous. Sara Tabin, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 May 2021 Chelsea's decision to fire a club legend suddenly doesn't seem so callous after all. Rob Harris, ajc, 6 May 2021 Chelsea's decision to fire a club legend suddenly doesn't seem so callous after all. Rob Harris, Star Tribune, 5 May 2021 The Roth who emerges from Bailey’s research could be callous to friends, enemies and lovers alike. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2021 For the State GLO not to give one dime in the initial distribution to the City and a very small portion to the county shows a callous disregard to the people of our region. Dan Carson, Chron, 21 May 2021 The post drew a backlash from Internet users who called it callous, and it was taken down on the same day. BostonGlobe.com, 4 May 2021 If the top executives model callous, indifferent or abusive attitudes toward employees, others within the organization start to pick up on that and imitate it. Bill Higgs, Forbes, 5 May 2021 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, 27 Apr. 2020 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 14 June 2019 His beard was rough, and his hands were cracked and calloused. Peter Talbot, The Seattle Times, 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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Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Callous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for callous

callous

adjective

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

More from Merriam-Webster on callous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for callous

Nglish: Translation of callous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about callous

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