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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Pick off a leaf and let the end where it was attached develop a callous by leaving it exposed to air. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Introducing kalanchoe, the perfect houseplant for November in the north," 21 Nov. 2019 Instead of calling for help, Gaffney allegedly uploaded the picture of Garcia — with his callous message — onto Snapchat. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "N.J. Man Allegedly Posted Naked Snapchat Pic of Teen He Choked to Death During Sex in Parked Car," 18 Nov. 2019 The attack was a kind of callous brutality not commonly seen in street gang warfare largely because when children and other unaffiliated family members are intentionally targeted, the unspoken rules of combat become upended, criminal experts say. NBC News, "Crossing a line in gang wars: Chicago gang members on trial for execution-style murder of 9-year-old," 29 Sep. 2019 The next day, Jennifer seems like her usual selfish, callous self. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Horror film Jennifer’s Body bombed 10 years ago; now it’s a cult classic," 21 Sep. 2019 No one deserves to be treated in this callous manner. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Pregnant inmate deserved help; Voters will get final say; Seeing red at Colorado game (9/9/19)," 9 Sep. 2019 Prosecutors asked for an eight-month sentence, saying the attorney lacked morality, showed callous disregard for the law. CBS News, "Felicity Huffman's sentence "set the floor" in college admissions scandal, lawyer says," 4 Oct. 2019 The only real conspiracy here is the ageless one between and among prison guards and jail officials who too often treat at-risk inmates with callous disregard and deliberate indifference. Andrew Cohen, The New Republic, "The Completely Predictable Death of Jeffrey Epstein," 11 Aug. 2019 But the callous, illogical inhumanity of the current policy is best summed up by Steven Camarota, director of research for the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: Outcasts, deportees, crustaceans, grants," 1 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about callous

Time Traveler for callous

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about callous

Statistics for callous

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Callous.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callousness. Accessed 5 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on callous

What made you want to look up callous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to accept, comply, or submit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!