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

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

Harvath has no way to communicate with his team, no support from the Russians in the area, and he's being pursued by a ruthless killer who now regrets not killing Harvath right away. Jeff Ayers, Dallas News, "Special ops hero Scot Harvath returns in Brad Thor's 'Backlash'," 17 July 2019 That makes him putty in the hands of his latest passenger, Vic (Bautista), a detective hellbent on avenging the murder of his partner (Karen Gillan) by a ruthless heroin dealer named Teijo (Indonesian star Iko Uwais). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Stuber’ is a sloppy action-comedy that never surges to life," 11 July 2019 The state of Qin, based in the Sichuan plains, eventually won out in 221 B.C. under the leadership of the ruthless King Zheng. Kristin Baird Rattini, National Geographic, "Who was the Chinese emperor behind the terra-cotta warriors?," 3 June 2019 The former football player, Truck Turner (Isaac Hayes), now a bounty hunter, finds himself up against a ruthless Madame, played by Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, and a sociopathic pimp played by Yaphet Kotto. Richard Newby, New York Times, "Like the New ‘Superfly’? Stream These 13 Classic Blaxploitation Films," 18 June 2018 Its culture melds a ruthless pursuit of profit with a Panglossian and narcissistic belief in its own virtue. The Economist, "What Zuckerberg should doFacebook faces a reputational meltdown," 22 Mar. 2018 This scene from Season 1 offers one of the first glimpses into how smart and ruthless Walter White (Cranston) can be when cornered. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul spark 'Breaking Bad' reunion buzz," 26 June 2019 But in The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un, Anna Fifield forcefully demonstrates that the North Korean leader is far more savvy, ambitious and ruthless than his ludicrous nicknames suggest. Krys Lee, Dallas News, "Book peers inside the hidden life of N. Korea's Kim Jong Un," 18 June 2019 Between Kidman’s tight, interior performance and Weigert’s gentle but ruthless portrayal of a woman shredding Celeste’s layers of denial, Big Little Lies gave a profound treatment to domestic abuse and its impact. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Family Values of Big Little Lies," 7 June 2019

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

23 Jul 2019

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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 How to pronounce ruthless (audio) \

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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