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 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 Men make choices and can be quite cruel when caught up in evil. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, 19 July 2021 And its extension to our federal prison system is cruel and unjust. Benjamin Siegel, ABC News, 12 July 2021 The rule is illogical and its enforcement, in this case, is obviously cruel. Jim Souhan, Star Tribune, 4 July 2021 This teacher’s actions were cruel and completely unjustified. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 26 June 2021 This teacher’s actions were cruel and completely unjustified. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 25 June 2021 Nevertheless, he must be held accountable for the death of Mr. Floyd and for doing so in a manner that was particularly cruel and an abuse of his authority. NBC News, 25 June 2021 This was too cruel even for a franchise that had endured seemingly every possible indignity in 37 years in Los Angeles. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2021 The move is another significant effort at redress for Trump policies that Biden administration officials and their allies say were cruel and inhumane and defenders say were extremely effective at discouraging asylum-seekers from coming to the U.S. Maria Verza And Elliot Spagat, chicagotribune.com, 22 June 2021

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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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

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cruel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cruel. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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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

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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