ruthless

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

Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : merciless, cruel a ruthless tyrant

Keep scrolling for more

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

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that Ongwen rose swiftly through the ranks because of his reputation as a ruthless killer. Mike Corder, The Seattle Times, "Defense lawyer casts Ugandan war crimes defendant as victim," 18 Sep. 2018 Risha and his parents were members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, a group led by ruthless preacher Tony Alamo. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Alamo cult survivor Benjamin Risha describes horrifying beatings in documentary: 'I wanted to know what life was like beyond this'," 4 July 2018 There's a thorny issue of logic — as Macbeth, the very skilled Ian Merrill Peakes shows us all of the Thane of Cawdor's soul-shattering guilt and self-doubt, but not the man's ruthless ambition. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "12 shows to see now," 22 June 2018 The networks were ruthless with cancellations, culling even the shows that had promise. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "Did Your Favorite Show Survive The 2018 Cancellation Bloodbath?," 14 May 2018 Michael’s rising influence puts him in the path of Baines’ equally ruthless top aide (Adrian Grenier), as well as his own leftist activist roommate (Thora Birch). Noel Murray, latimes.com, "Sex-tinged melodrama 'Affairs of State' mirrors real politics," 14 June 2018 Will the police ever realize that sweet, frail, confused old Maud is in fact sharp as a tack and just as ruthless? Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Tales to Warm a Cold Winter’s Night," 21 Dec. 2018 That body count in Anna and the Apocalypse is surprisingly ruthless, even by the standards of a zombie film. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Why zombies are so hilarious," 5 Dec. 2018 By the tale’s end, Nixon is ruthless and paranoid, an alcoholic shell of a man fighting fruitlessly to retain his illusions about himself. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 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.

See More

First Known Use of ruthless

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ruthless

Listen to Our Podcast about ruthless

Statistics for ruthless

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ruthless

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ruthless

ruthless

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ruthless

: having no pity : cruel or merciless

ruthless

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on ruthless

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

WORD OF THE DAY

an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Thing: Animal Edition

  • alt 5a023732e6f75
  • Name that animal:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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