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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web His right side becomes a sadist, obsessed with systems of torture; his left is now possessed by a sickly goodness and grace; both sides are in love with the same woman, Pamela. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 27 Feb. 2023 In this piercing investigation of memory, loss and love, former U.S. poet laureate Trethewey shares the story of her mother's murder by her second husband, a violent, manipulative sadist. Katherine A. Powers, Star Tribune, 24 Dec. 2020 Between 1947 and 1952, his first six novels featuring private investigator Mike Hammer, a sadist with a heart of gold, sold millions of copies in paperback—bringing legitimacy to the fledgling format. Michael Saler, WSJ, 26 Jan. 2023 Here are stories about that sadist Putin, bombing hospitals. The Indianapolis Star, 3 Jan. 2023 In more ordinary circumstances, however, his need to dominate and take command wasn’t much different from that of his own villain, the controlling, paramilitary sadist Miss Trunchbull. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2022 Polumbaum countered in his closing argument Tuesday that Peña’s mental issues were nonsense coming from a manipulative, predatory sadist. Tonya Alanez,, 26 July 2022 The hold of this little sadist, Daniel Ortega, and his comrades over Nicaragua has to break sometime. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 1 Apr. 2022 But, yes, the Whitecloak encounter has also been tweaked to give us more of our favorite sadist. Andrew Cunningham & Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, 3 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sadist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 21 Mar. 2023.

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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Standardized Test Words

  • high school student holding a pencil leaning over a sat test
  • Despite the cacophony, the student tried to study.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?