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

The ridicule was ruthless, matched only by the anger Democrats directed at her for distracting from the election. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Biggest Loser: Elizabeth Warren," 8 Nov. 2018 In an unrelated case, Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges that his cartel laundered billions of dollars and oversaw a ruthless campaign of murders and kidnappings. ___ Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at . Michael Balsamo, Fox News, "Authorities say they've busted large Mexico-to-US drug ring," 9 Aug. 2018 If ruthless scoring and wagging tongue celebrations are your thing, then Jordan is the playoff pick for you. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Michael Jordan or LeBron James: Which one is the Greatest of All Time?," 13 May 2018 Fisk is patient, smart, and savvy, with a keen insight into what makes people tick, and is completely ruthless about manipulating them to serve his ends. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Wilson Fisk is back and better than ever in season 3 of Daredevil," 12 Nov. 2018 But there's a price for being so ruthless on screen and the actress can prove it. Cara Zimmerman, Harper's BAZAAR, "Charlize Theron Does All Her Own Stunts In Atomic Blonde," 12 July 2017 As viewers now know (spoilers ahead, naturally), though, not all is well with the Time Team: Rittenhouse is still a going concern, now run by even more ruthless villains, and worst of all, Rufus is dead in 1888. Rachel Kaufman, Smithsonian, "How the Writers of “Timeless” Mined History for its Riveting Second Season," 14 May 2018 And unfortunately for Mexico, for a quarter century the World Cup has been serving up a regular and ruthless reminder of its place in soccer’s rigid hierarchy. Brian Straus,, "Mexico Can Dream Bigger at World Cup After Beating Powerhouse Germany," 17 June 2018 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

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

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for ruthless

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

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More Definitions for ruthless



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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More from Merriam-Webster on ruthless

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ruthless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ruthless

Spanish Central: Translation of ruthless

Nglish: Translation of ruthless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruthless for Arabic Speakers

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