cruelty

noun
cru·​el·​ty | \ ˈkrü(-ə)l-tē How to pronounce cruelty (audio) \
plural cruelties

Definition of cruelty

1 : the quality or state of being cruel
2a : a cruel action
b : inhuman treatment
3 : marital conduct held (as in a divorce action) to endanger life or health or to cause mental suffering or fear

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Examples of cruelty in a Sentence

a dictator known for his cruelty The cruelty of children can be surprising. They protested against cruelty to animals.
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Recent Examples on the Web

If she was left there, the person involved could be charged with offenses such as abandonment and cruelty to children in the first degree. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "A mother is sought after an hours-old newborn in a plastic bag is left in the woods," 8 June 2019 But what looks like cruelty in Dennis-Benn’s protagonists is also a desperate expression of autonomy, an insistence on claiming a sense of agency in the face of dispiriting alternatives. Adrienne Green, The Atlantic, "The Costs of Going After Love," 7 June 2019 But there’s also a capacity in her performances for a kind of cruelty that audiences love to watch. Adam Green, Vogue, "Glenda Jackson and Ruth Wilson on Bringing a Modern King Lear to Broadway," 19 Mar. 2019 Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “They Try to Take You Out with Bullshit”," 3 Mar. 2019 But Democrats’ concerns about her lack of qualifications soon turned to concerns about morality and her capacity for cruelty. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Elizabeth Warren confronts Trump nominee for her role in family separations," 19 July 2018 The jokes are based on what makes them laugh, not an underlying sense of cruelty. Laura Studarus, Marie Claire, "Amy Sedaris Is the Anti-Marie Kondo," 19 Feb. 2019 There is no justification for that kind of cruelty, and no greater good that can come of it. Nadia Murad, Glamour, "Nadia Murad Escaped Sexual Slavery at the Hands of ISIS. This Is Her Story.," 5 Oct. 2018 False stories typically have a lurid quality, often involving bizarre forms of cruelty that don’t always strictly make sense. Sandra Newman, Vox, "What I learned reading hundreds of false rape accusations.," 18 Sep. 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cruelty

Middle English cruelte, from Anglo-French cruelté, from Latin crudelitat-, crudelitas, from crudelis

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Statistics for cruelty

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cruelty

The first known use of cruelty was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for cruelty

cruelty

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cruelty

: a desire to cause others to suffer : the quality or state of being cruel
: actions that cause suffering
: an act or occurrence that causes suffering

cruelty

noun
cru·​el·​ty | \ ˈkrü-əl-tē How to pronounce cruelty (audio) \
plural cruelties

Kids Definition of cruelty

1 : the quality or state of causing or wanting to cause suffering a man of cruelty
2 : treatment that causes suffering

cruelty

noun
cru·​el·​ty
plural cruelties

Legal Definition of cruelty

1a : an intentional or criminally negligent act that causes pain and suffering cruelty to animals cruelty to children
b : mistreatment or neglect that causes pain and suffering — compare abuse

Note: Cruelty is an aggravating circumstance to a crime (as murder).

2 : a spouse's conduct that endangers life or health or causes mental suffering or fear

called also cruel and inhuman treatment

Note: Cruelty is a ground for divorce.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cruelty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cruelty

Spanish Central: Translation of cruelty

Nglish: Translation of cruelty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cruelty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cruelty

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