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

Other Words from callous

Adjective

callously adverb
callousness noun

Did you know?

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Travel, especially across an ocean, seemed indulgent, even callous. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 21 Jan. 2022 Still, there’s something callous about how casually Leitch takes human life. Peter Debruge, Variety, 2 Aug. 2022 The callous episode of gun violence unfolded at the Subway connected to a Circle K on Northside Drive, two blocks south of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Matt Bruce, ajc, 2 July 2022 Montand, a movie star, can express our despair and then go on to demonstrate mankind’s callous survival. Armond White, National Review, 15 June 2022 The woman who ordered the caftan stops by every few days to check on its progress, but Mina doesn’t like her attitude and asks her husband not to give such fine work to someone so callous. Peter Debruge, Variety, 5 June 2022 The dismissal feels callous coming from a person still grappling with trauma himself. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, 23 May 2022 Keeping people on unemployment benefits is what’s truly callous. Bryan Sunderland, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 To end here, with Nadia high, grieving, and staring, hollow-eyed, into a mirror that once signified her stubborn survival, would be a callous conclusion to a character who has embodied resilience in the face of impossible challenges. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 23 Apr. 2022 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 See More

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.

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

Learn More About callous

Time Traveler for callous

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near callous

Callosobruchus

callous

calloused

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Statistics for callous

Last Updated

18 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Callous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for callous

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

Nglish: Translation of callous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about callous

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