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

Other Words from cruel

cruelly \ ˈkrü-​(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cruel (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 Children can be cruel, to animals, classmates and especially siblings. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 Their barbs are cruel, their braying disquieting, but in this cast's hands, underneath the toxicity is a deep attraction and an uncanny sense that this is their version of domestic bliss. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 6 May 2022 Both are chafing under the minor indignities of everyday life — many of them coming from husbands who don’t mean to be cruel, but can’t help taking their wives for granted. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 May 2022 The people who are dangerous are, usually, needlessly cruel. Denise Davidsonwriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 Prince Andrew is cruel towards his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 27 Apr. 2022 Moore's attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines if either available method is cruel and unusual punishment. Arkansas Online, 16 Apr. 2022 Moore's attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines if either available method is cruel and unusual punishment. CBS News, 15 Apr. 2022 Moore’s attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines if either available method is cruel and unusual punishment. Fox News, 15 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About cruel

Time Traveler for cruel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cruel

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cruel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cruel. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cruel

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

More from Merriam-Webster on cruel

Nglish: Translation of cruel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cruel for Arabic Speakers

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