cruel

adjective
cru·​el | \ ˈkrü(-ə)l \
crueler or crueller; cruelest or cruellest

Definition of cruel

1 : disposed to inflict pain or suffering : devoid of humane feelings a cruel tyrant has a cruel heart
2a : causing or conducive to injury, grief, or pain a cruel joke a cruel twist of fate
b : unrelieved by leniency cruel punishment

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Other Words from cruel

cruelly \ ˈkrü-​(ə-​)lē \ adverb
cruelness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for cruel

fierce, ferocious, barbarous, savage, cruel mean showing fury or malignity in looks or actions. fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack. fierce warriors ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality. a ferocious dog barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people. barbarous treatment of prisoners savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion. a savage criminal cruel implies indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. the cruel jokes of schoolboys

Examples of cruel in a Sentence

a cruel twist of fate Hunger is a cruel fact of nature.

Recent Examples on the Web

Not only has the couple navigated hate mail from critics, but also cruel comments about their baby. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "'Home Town' Stars Erin and Ben Napier Reveal Why They Rarely Show Their Baby on TV," 28 Jan. 2019 From the outside, it is being driven by left-leaning activists who are horrified by the increasingly cruel policies of the Trump administration and who are using technology to fight back. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "Immigration Fight Shows Silicon Valley Must Stop Feigning Neutrality," 8 July 2018 The left often concludes from this that people calling for enforcement are cruel and racist. The Economist, "How the West’s immigration policies clash with values," 21 June 2018 Reid Herjo, 24, was caught by police in the cruel lie after he was pulled over for speeding in late January, police said in a Facebook post. Fox News, "New Jersey man kills dog, lies about abusing pet to raise thousands in donations, police say," 11 Apr. 2018 Chicago Fire has been known for its cruel deaths in the past, but would the show really introduce a budding romance just to kill off one (or both) of the characters off?! Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "A Terrifying 'Chicago Fire' Sneak Peek Shows Casey Fighting for His Life," 8 Jan. 2019 That cruel winter wind is obviously whipping around cold air, but the air is typically dry, too. Korin Miller, SELF, "8 Ways to Keep Winter From Making Your Dry Eyes Worse," 11 Dec. 2018 Six major tournaments in 22 years (including the European Championship), and England, brimming with high hopes and big-name players, going out in the cruelest possible way. Andrew Das, New York Times, "England Shakes Its Shootout Curse and Saves Its World Cup," 5 July 2018 Neil Farrell, 56, and Janet Farrell, 54, disciplined the disabled 18-year-old in cruel ways, deputies said. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Parents reported daughter missing. Cops found her — and the room she escaped, Ga. deputies say," 26 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cruel

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin crudelis, from crudus — see crude entry 1

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Statistics for cruel

Last Updated

5 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for cruel

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

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More Definitions for cruel

cruel

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of cruel

used to describe people who hurt others and do not feel sorry about it
: causing or helping to cause suffering : terrible and unfair

cruel

adjective
cru·​el | \ ˈkrü-əl \
crueler or crueller; cruelest or cruellest

Kids Definition of cruel

1 : wanting to cause others to suffer a cruel ruler
2 : causing or helping to cause suffering cruel punishment a cruel joke

Other Words from cruel

cruelly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on cruel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cruel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cruel

Spanish Central: Translation of cruel

Nglish: Translation of cruel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cruel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cruel

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