cut·throat | \ˈkət-ˌthrōt \

Definition of cutthroat 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a cruel unprincipled person



Definition of cutthroat (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : marked by unprincipled practices : ruthless cutthroat competition

3 : characterized by each player playing independently rather than having a permanent partner used especially of partnership games adapted for three players cutthroat bridge

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for cutthroat

Synonyms: Noun

assassin, homicide, killer, manslayer, murderer

Synonyms: Adjective

immoral, Machiavellian, unconscionable, unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous

Antonyms: Adjective

ethical, moral, principled, scrupulous

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of cutthroat in a Sentence


while traveling the ancient Silk Road, traders were constant prey to cutthroats and thieves


cutthroat business practices intended to drive competitors out of business

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There’s a lot of bait in 20 to 40 feet, which has triggered the cutthroat into feeding. sacbee, "Fishing line: Striper action takes off near Colusa and on Feather River | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Apr. 2018 At Crosby’s Lodge, an 11-pound, 12-ounce cutthroat caught by Jim Crayne of Petaluma was checked in. sacbee, "Fishing line: Striper action takes off near Colusa and on Feather River | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Apr. 2018 Brook trout up to 5 pounds, cutthroats approaching 10 pounds and cutthroat-rainbow hybrids that regularly break double figures on the scale all are possibilities. Jordan Rodriguez, idahostatesman, "Hit the road for your next fishing adventure. You might catch something new. | Idaho Statesman," 7 Mar. 2018 Green River, Utah Walk along the canyon to find the perfect spot to cast in along this Blue Ribbon fishery, where anglers frequently reel in brown and rainbow trout, whitefish, and some cutthroats. Stephanie Granada, Sunset, "10 Epic Fishing Trips in the West," 22 Jan. 2018 In the last period of real cavalry warfare, Benya enrolls in a cavalry battalion with a crew of cutthroats and Cossacks who encounter the Italians. New York Times, "Simon Sebag Montefiore: By the Book," 18 Jan. 2018 Below the dam: Cotter Trout Dock reports: light generation; trout good (rainbows and cutthroats) on 1/8 -ounce jigs (white, white/gray or orange/black) and garlic-flavored yellow, sunrise or pink PowerBait. Bruce Janssen, kansascity, "Fishing report for Oct. 26 | The Kansas City Star," 25 Oct. 2017 Rainbow, cutthroats and cutbow trout are all into their spawn, so be cautious of redds while wading on the rivers and creeks. Colorado Parks & Wildlife, The Denver Post, "Colorado fishing report for week of May 21, 2017," 21 May 2017 More than 100 years of isolation in Bear Creek has rendered greenback cutthroats extra susceptible to sickness. Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, "Colorado’s rarest fish: greenback cutthroats endure electro-zapping, netting and squeezing as biologists try to save state fish from extinction," 13 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Over the weekend, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said 1.4 million trout, mostly rainbow trout but also the rare Lahontan cutthroat and California golden trout, were at risk. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, "Floods hammer Sierra foothills," 26 Mar. 2018 The service is a way Walmart is seeking to differentiate itself in Charlotte's increasingly cutthroat grocery industry. Katherine Peralta, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte's No. 2 grocer launches home delivery service," 9 Apr. 2018 Randalls last year closed one of its Katy locations, citing cutthroat competition in the grocery market. Paul Takahashi, Houston Chronicle, "Randalls supermarket in Cypress to close," 25 May 2018 Credit cards are a cutthroat business dominated by larger rivals like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. Yields are falling. Liz Hoffman, WSJ, "Goldman Sachs, Apple Team Up on New Credit Card," 10 May 2018 In the cutthroat car rental business, losing 2 percent of the potential market can make a real difference between success and failure, especially in parts of the country where the NRA is popular. Jason Miklian, Washington Post, "Here’s why #BoycottTheNRA worked so quickly," 28 Feb. 2018 Sam is on a trajectory through the cutthroat business that would be the envy of any promising driver. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "If you're 15 and looking to make it in the stock-car world, it's great to be Sam Mayer," 2 July 2018 In companies where employee morale isn’t a priority, the workplace culture quickly becomes toxic, bitter and cutthroat. NBC News, "5 ways to overcome low employee morale," 3 Apr. 2018 Normal politics Russian-style is a cutthroat, zero-sum contest, in which no methods are ruled out. Daniel Treisman, Washington Post, "How Putin’s regime is both authoritarian and incompetent," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cutthroat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cutthroat


1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cutthroat

Statistics for cutthroat

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cutthroat

The first known use of cutthroat was in 1535

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cutthroat



English Language Learners Definition of cutthroat

—used to describe a situation in which people compete with each other in an unpleasant and often cruel and unfair way

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cutthroat

What made you want to look up cutthroat? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!