ruth·less | \ˈrüth-ləs also ˈru̇th- \

Definition of ruthless 

: having no pity : merciless, cruel a ruthless tyrant

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Other Words from ruthless

ruthlessly adverb
ruthlessness noun

What's the Difference Between Ruthless and 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 President Trump's critics the North Korea summit was a self-serving spectacle that achieved little and elevated a ruthless dictator. NBC News, "Meet the Press - June 17, 2018," 17 June 2018 That the president had flown halfway around the world to meet the ruthless dictator of a nuclear-armed nation alone spoke volumes symbolically. Author: Dan Balz, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: Summit’s outcome rests on substance, not symbolism," 12 June 2018 So much for the titans of South America, whose pedigree and star power fizzled in the face of ruthless European tactics. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The World Cup is a victory for the immigrant dream," 12 July 2018 But after Max is murdered, Gus grows ruthless, vengeful, and manipulative, and his gentleness morphs into a strategic inscrutability. Matthew Gilbert,, "The best villains on TV," 6 July 2018 Facebook’s approach to crypto seems to be just another example of its ruthless business tactics. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Facebook's Crypto Ad Ban Hurt Competition. Regulators Should Scrutinize It.," 30 June 2018 The pair pleaded guilty in May. Lincoln Towing was founded by Ross Cascio and became notorious for its allegedly ruthless tactics. Robert Channick,, "State wraps up case for stripping Lincoln Towing's license, citing 'pattern and practice of unauthorized towing'," 17 Feb. 2018 One area is controlled by a ruthless gang that recently set a bus ablaze with passengers inside. Omar Villafranca, CBS News, "Treacherous journey to U.S. a last resort for some fleeing violence in El Salvador," 20 June 2018 So not only is President Trump Hitler in this scenario, but also Trevor Noah automatically becomes, in his own mind, the fearless comedian mocking a ruthless, bloodthirsty dictator. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Trevor Noah fashions himself a modern Charlie Chaplin, compares Trump to African dictators, Hitler," 10 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of ruthless

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

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

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English Language Learners Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : cruel or merciless


ruth·less | \ˈrüth-ləs \

Kids Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : cruel

Other Words from ruthless

ruthlessly adverb
ruthlessness noun

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