ruth·​less | \ ˈrüth-ləs How to pronounce ruthless (audio) also ˈru̇th- \

Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : merciless, cruel a ruthless tyrant

Other Words from ruthless

ruthlessly adverb
ruthlessness noun

If someone can be ruthless, can one also be ruthful?

Ruthless can be defined as "without ruth" or "having no ruth." So what, then, is ruth? The noun ruth, which is now considerably less common than ruthless, means "compassion for the misery of another," "sorrow for one's own faults," or "remorse." And, just as it is possible for one to be without ruth, it is also possible to be full of ruth. The antonym of ruthless is ruthful, meaning "full of ruth" or "tender." Ruthful can also mean "full of sorrow" or "causing sorrow." Ruth can be traced back to the Middle English noun ruthe, itself from ruen, meaning "to rue" or "to feel regret, remorse, or sorrow."

Examples of ruthless in a Sentence

The journalist was ruthless in his criticism. an office supervisor with a ruthless disregard for others' feelings
Recent Examples on the Web To do that, the Russians would need to hold the strategic port city of Mariupol — one major reason, analysts say, for Moscow’s ruthless and ongoing siege of the city. Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2022 On one end sits Alma's ex, Parco (Benjamin Bratt), and on the other Wilson (Hoon Lee), each ruthless and brutal in their own way. Brian Lowry, CNN, 17 Mar. 2022 Minimalism felt really ruthless and sociopathic to me. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2022 Harold and Chow use the words ruthless and ambitious to describetheir new Jedi-hunter, but the woman playing her prefers another description. Dalton Ross,, 10 Mar. 2022 The crimes that the piece memorialized, some 40 years after the fact, had been vicious, ruthless and brutal. Diane Cole, WSJ, 6 Mar. 2022 The Penguin has a reputation for being brilliant, ruthless and well-connected. Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 2022 Sherman had a reputation as a ruthless business competitor who had enemies. Christine Pelisek,, 23 Dec. 2021 One squares off with an especially ruthless competitor and is promptly dispatched. Tom Vanderbilt, Wired, 19 Oct. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of ruthless

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ruthless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ruthless


ruth·​less | \ ˈrüth-ləs How to pronounce ruthless (audio) \

Kids Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : cruel

Other Words from ruthless

ruthlessly adverb
ruthlessness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ruthless

Nglish: Translation of ruthless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruthless for Arabic Speakers


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