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

Supporters of a ban include animal welfare advocates, who say declawing is cruel. Washington Post, "The Latest: Proposed cat declawing ban passes NY Legislature," 5 June 2019 After 2018's record heat wave (including a scorching 111º F recorded at UCLA), this is just cruel. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Summer 2019 Is Going to Be Extra Hot and Humid, According to 'Farmers' Almanac'," 25 Apr. 2019 The brutal deaths of Rickon and Rob and their direwolves showed how cruel their enemies could be. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Will the Direwolves Come Back on 'Game of Thrones'?," 12 May 2019 The shortage of an anxiety medication sounds like some sort of cruel joke. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "There’s an Anxiety Drug Shortage—Here’s What You Need to Know," 11 Feb. 2019 However, to call Verrocchio a master when his student was Da Vinci is one of history’s cruel jokes. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Yale Art Gallery Unravels Leonardo Da Vinci Mysteries," 3 July 2018 Further reasons for optimism include the 26-year-old's considerable Europa League experience (a cruel joke, on both) and an emotional reunion with Cesc Fabregas in the midfield. SI.com, "Why Chelsea Should Take a Punt on Super Jack Wilshere and Make Him the Golden Boy He Deserves to Be," 22 June 2018 This practice is cruel and contrary to American values. Alan Murray, Fortune, "CEOs v. Border Separations, Dow Boots GE, Starbucks Closings: CEO Daily for June 20, 2018," 20 June 2018 Samantha Bee made a cruel, misogynist joke and not even a very good one. NBC News, "Meet the Press - June 3, 2018," 3 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

11 Jun 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 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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