sa·​dist ˈsā-dist How to pronounce sadist (audio)
plural sadists
: one characterized by sadism : a person who takes pleasure in inflicting pain, punishment, or humiliation on others
a sexual sadist
He's a sadist and, where Toby is concerned, an unusually relentless one: he's in the boy's face constantly, prodding, belittling, taunting.Terrence Rafferty
To the penal colony, the cat-o'-nine-tails was a tool more basic than the hoe. On Norfolk Island, where the camp was commanded by a succession of sadists, there were other forms of torture as well …Clive James

Examples of sadist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When that job ended, he was spared once again—this time because a Gestapo officer named Felix Landau, a sadist with artistic pretensions, enlisted him as his personal lackey. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2023 His emissary is the vicious — wait for it — Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein), a sinewy sadist sporting Bolshevik-style outerwear over Nazi-chic black and white, who favors bashing his victims’ skulls in with a staff made from the bone of some ancient creature. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Dec. 2023 Director Martin Scorsese repeats so many variations on this depressing mistreatment that experiencing the film is akin to being locked in a room with a pair of soulless sadists. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 18 Oct. 2023 The Smiths signify the killer’s depraved idiosyncrasy — his untrustworthy individuality evokes the elite sadists in Fincher’s Fight Club. Armond White, National Review, 17 Nov. 2023 The rich are sadists, and none more so than Edoardo. Jess Bergman, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2023 Also alchemists, sadists, diabolists, absinthe fiends, and the occasional haunted dramatist. James Parker, The Atlantic, 11 Aug. 2023 Only a sadist would stick even one adult back there. Don Schroeder, Car and Driver, 2 Aug. 2023 Still, Putin is unlikely to repeat the same mistake twice: allowing a private army led by a hotheaded sadist to take an outsized role in Russia’s security. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sadist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1892, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sadist was in 1892

Dictionary Entries Near sadist

Cite this Entry

“Sadist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: an individual who practices sadism

Medical Definition


sa·​dist ˈsād-əst How to pronounce sadist (audio) ˈsad- How to pronounce sadist (audio)
: an individual who practices sadism
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