sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij How to pronounce savage (audio) \

Definition of savage

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : not domesticated or under human control : untamed savage beasts
b : lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings : fierce, ferocious a savage criminal
2 : wild, uncultivated seldom have I seen such savage scenery— Douglas Carruthers
3a : boorish, rude the savage bad manners of most motorists— M. P. O'Connor
4 : lacking complex or advanced culture : uncivilized a savage country



Definition of savage (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : a person belonging to a primitive society
2 : a brutal person
3 : a rude or unmannerly person


savaged; savaging

Definition of savage (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

: to attack or treat brutally


biographical name
Sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij How to pronounce Savage (audio) \

Definition of Savage (Entry 4 of 4)

Michael Joseph 1872–1940 prime minister of New Zealand (1935–40)

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Other Words from savage


savagely adverb
savageness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for savage


fierce, ferocious, barbarous, savage, cruel mean showing fury or malignity in looks or actions. fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack. fierce warriors ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality. a ferocious dog barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people. barbarous treatment of prisoners savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion. a savage criminal cruel implies indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. the cruel jokes of schoolboys

Examples of savage in a Sentence

Adjective He was the victim of a savage attack. The coast was lashed by savage storms. He wrote savage satires about people he didn't like. Noun What kind of savage could have committed such a terrible crime? what kind of savage would hurt a baby? Verb He looked like he'd been savaged by a wild animal. A hurricane savaged the city. The newspapers savaged his reputation.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The savage people were undelighted; the K: of Spayne was insufficiently annoyed. The Economist, "The world-changing life of Walter Raleigh," 28 Nov. 2019 As a result, Blanca has regressed to a savage state. Washington Post, "Locked up naked on a soiled mattress: Venezuela’s mental health nightmare," 28 Nov. 2019 Those emissions are changing the earth's climate and amplifying savage weather conditions that have been taking a heavy toll on the nation's farmers over the past few years. Adam Brewster, CBS News, "Can farmers sow their way out of climate change?," 5 Nov. 2019 To anyone who knows her well, Petsch is much more likely to flash a bright, toothy grin than sling Cheryl-style, savage AF one-liners. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Madelaine Petsch on Being “Riverdale” Royalty and Redefining Herself IRL," 3 Oct. 2019 This means that the gamut runs widely, from groping to the most savage rapes. The Economist, "Johnson How to talk about unspeakable things," 14 Nov. 2019 His Liza Minnelli impression is hysterically reminiscent of Andrea Martin’s savage SCTV take on that chirpy, arm-thrusting legend. Christopher Arnott,, "Review: ’The Legend of Georgia McBride’ a bustling, heartwarming drag comedy at Seven Angels," 11 Nov. 2019 The documentary series shows that the evidence linking Demjanjuk to the savage prison guard included a Nazi identity card that prosecutors claimed was from an SS training camp, with a photo of a man who looked like a younger Demjanjuk. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "The History Behind Netflix’s Nazi Trial Documentary Series The Devil Next Door," 4 Nov. 2019 On his emergence, the world next learned of Baghdadi as the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq, the savage insurgency led by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi until his death in a US bombing raid in 2006. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "How ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became a feared preacher of hate," 27 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At one point in the 1995 film, a cowboy calls an Indian a savage. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "Nebraska Just Approved More Inclusive Social Studies Guidelines. They're a Window Into the Changing Way Kids Are Learning U.S. History," 8 Nov. 2019 Daybreak is set in a post-apocalyptic Glendale, Calif., after a nuclear blast has turned adults into braindead, bloodthirsty savages, leading teenagers to form their own tribes to survive the desolate wasteland. Tyler Aquilina,, "Daybreak star Matthew Broderick thinks Ferris Bueller would do 'pretty well' in the apocalypse," 4 Oct. 2019 However, among the memes and Dadaist humor of TikTok run a savage streak of political activism. Aj Willingham, CNN, "The teens of TikTok are taking on school shootings," 2 Oct. 2019 Thanks for lettin ur daughter marry a savage like me. Steve Helling,, "Justin Bieber Is 'Really Relaxed' Ahead of Tying the Knot Again with Hailey Baldwin, Source Says," 30 Sep. 2019 Thanks for lettin ur daughter marry a savage like me 🥶🥶🥶🥰🥰🥰🥰😜😜😜 Justin and Hailey aren't the only ones unbothered. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Selena Gomez Fans Are Trolling Justin Bieber Over His Throwback Photo with Hailey Baldwin," 30 Sep. 2019 Rather than a savage, Boudica was regarded as a parallel to the reigning queen of England, Elizabeth I. The Victorians later reinvented Boudica as a valiant upholder of British nationhood. Richard Hingley, National Geographic, "Big, bad Boudica united thousands of ancient Britons against Rome," 22 Oct. 2019 In 2009, a savage beating left him in a minimally conscious coma. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "'I thought I'd be ready': Father mourns son's death 10 years after attack put him in coma," 14 Sep. 2019 But a new advertising campaign that paired them with Native American imagery deepened wounds among a population whose ancestors were called savages and systematically killed. Washington Post, "Dior stokes outrage with new ad for its Sauvage fragrance," 30 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb United behind their queen, the Britons would rise up and savage several Roman settlements. Richard Hingley, National Geographic, "Big, bad Boudica united thousands of ancient Britons against Rome," 22 Oct. 2019 The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published it., "“The certainty of evidence for these risk reductions was low to very low,” said Bradley Johnston, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University and leader of the group publishing the new research in the Annals of Internal Medicine.," 1 Oct. 2019 Founded in San Antonio in 1986 as waves of refugees migrated north, farther from the civil wars savaging Central America, RAICES provides legal services to immigrants in federal detention. Kimberly Meyer, Glamour, "The Women of RAICES Are Giving Immigrants a Voice," 25 Oct. 2019 The opening scenes of the first episode, for instance, re-create the Tulsa, Okla., race riot of 1921, in which a prosperous African American community was savaged by angry whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. Los Angeles Times, "‘Watchmen’s’ provocative portrait of race in America has its own creator worried," 20 Oct. 2019 It was also savaged in the Israeli press as a sign of his political desperation, an 11th-hour overture to right-wing voters. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "In the Jordan Valley, Palestinians fear further displacement after Netanyahu’s annexation pledge," 11 Sep. 2019 The brand’s collections had been critically savaged since parting ways with Alber Elbaz, its former creative director, in 2015. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Millennials Are Taking Over Fashion, Too," 5 Sep. 2019 Venezuela has been savaged by poverty and civil unrest under President Nicolas Maduro. Peter Abraham,, "David Price will throw simulated game in Colorado Tuesday," 23 Aug. 2019 The conventional wisdom among Washington Republicans is that populist conservative voters no longer care about spending or deficits and the that Democrats and hostile media would savage any attempts to rein in government. Brian Riedl, National Review, "New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea Party Coffin," 22 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'savage.' 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 savage


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for savage


Middle English, from Anglo-French salvage, savage, from Late Latin salvaticus, alteration of Latin silvaticus of the woods, wild, from silva wood, forest

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Time Traveler for savage

Time Traveler

The first known use of savage was in the 13th century

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Statistics for savage

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for savage


How to pronounce Savage (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of savage

 (Entry 1 of 3)

of an animal : not under human control
: very cruel or violent
: very critical or harsh



English Language Learners Definition of savage (Entry 2 of 3)

old-fashioned + offensive : a person who has a way of life that is simple and not highly advanced
: a person who is very violent or cruel



English Language Learners Definition of savage (Entry 3 of 3)

: to attack or treat (someone or something) in a very cruel, violent, or harsh way


sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij How to pronounce savage (audio) \

Kids Definition of savage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not tamed : wild savage beasts
2 : being cruel and brutal : fierce a savage attack

Other Words from savage

savagely adverb They fought savagely.



Kids Definition of savage (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person belonging to a group with a low level of civilization
2 : a cruel or violent person

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More from Merriam-Webster on savage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savage

Spanish Central: Translation of savage

Nglish: Translation of savage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savage for Arabic Speakers

Comments on savage

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delight or enjoyment

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