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 Some city leaders dismiss any significance to the 300th mark, saying it’s a callous and arbitrary measure. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney expected questions about Baltimore’s 300th homicide; she didn’t expect it would be a man she’d loved," 28 Dec. 2020 Some city leaders dismiss any significance to the 300th mark, saying it’s a callous and arbitrary measure. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney expected questions about Baltimore’s 300th homicide; she didn’t expect it would be a man she’d loved," 28 Dec. 2020 Three House Democrats have now tested positive for COVID-19 since the attack, each attributing their infection to the irresponsibility and callous disregard of their putative colleagues. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Call Is Coming From Inside the House (and Senate)," 13 Jan. 2021 The dismissal is curt and callous: clearly, Trump’s victory provoked some of his opponents to double down on their hostility toward his supporters. Jackson Lears, The New York Review of Books, "Orthodoxy of the Elites," 5 Jan. 2021 Some city leaders dismiss any significance to the 300th mark, saying it’s a callous and arbitrary measure. Washington Post, "Baltimore’s 300th homicide hits home for state’s attorney spokeswoman," 3 Jan. 2021 Lawyers for the estates of four dead workers have portrayed the betting pool as indicative of the company's callous attitude toward health and safety. Ryan J. Foley, USA TODAY, "Fired boss at Tysons Iowa pork plant says COVID-19 betting pool was a 'morale boost'," 30 Dec. 2020 That doesn’t stop their callous campaigns from continuing. Ellen Carmichael, National Review, "Journalists’ Behavior over Luke Letlow’s Passing Is Abhorrent — and Telling," 30 Dec. 2020 The misshapen dwarf imagines that the callous little princess loves him. Washington Post, "A reading list just right for Christmas 2020: A little Dickens, a little Wilde, a little Donald Duck," 23 Dec. 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

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Callous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous. Accessed 6 Mar. 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

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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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