cruel

adjective
cru·​el | \ ˈkrü(-ə)l How to pronounce cruel (audio) \
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 How to pronounce cruelly (audio) \ 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

On Twitter, folks were equally shocked and pretty upset with her for playing such a cruel joke on the singers. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "See 'American Idol' Judge Katy Perry's Most Controversial Moments on the Show," 3 Mar. 2019 The government shutdown is literally driving people out of their homes and starving them, the trans military ban is unconstitutional and beyond cruel. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Supreme Court Allows Trump's Transgender Military Ban to Go Into Effect Temporarily," 22 Jan. 2019 Needless to say, her cruel and abusive husband, the Duke of Monmouth does not agree with the situation. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Victoria Sneak Peek: Watch as Queen Victoria Declares the Great Exhibition Open," 27 Feb. 2019 These small dwellings covered a landscape previously dotted with the one thorny tree stubborn enough to grow in the cruel conditions. Sarah Butrymowicz, Marie Claire, "Refugee Girls Want to Change the World. Will We Let Them?," 7 Jan. 2019 The judge, forced to issue the punishment, called it cruel and unjust. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Jailbreak for Bipartisanship," 15 Nov. 2018 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

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

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce cruel (audio) \
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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