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)

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Yummy Sandifer’s story still resonates in Chicago 25 years after his disturbing journey from executioner to executed was splashed on television sets and magazine covers across the country as the latest example of the city’s savage gang warfare. Madeline Buckley,, "11-year-old ‘Yummy’ Sandifer was on the run for killing a teenage girl. Then he was killed by his own gang in a Chicago story that shocked the nation 25 years ago.," 29 Aug. 2019 Thank you for having us ✨✨✨✨ The replies were surprisingly tame, considering how savage everyone was back in February when Khloé gave herself two extra thumbs in yet another Photoshop fail. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Khloé Kardashian Had a Major Photoshop Fail That Gave Her 14 Fingers," 9 Apr. 2019 Landes thoroughly imbues his savage fable with animalistic playfulness that never permits forgetting its gun-throttling troop is coming of age in isolation. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Heaven, Earth and war collide in Alejandro Landes’ visceral ‘Monos’," 12 Sep. 2019 What the cheerleaders do in some of these movies is downright savage. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Cheerleader Movies Are Big Business for Lifetime," 10 Sep. 2019 The rest of what happened is as savage as combat gets and Bellavia put it all in this book. David Martin, CBS News, "Medal of Honor recipient says greatest award is being "alive"," 25 June 2019 But even this ferocious guardian was unable to prevent the grandfather’s savage murder by his oldest son, enraged by the decision to make a younger son the crown prince of Assyria. Richard Cork, WSJ, "A Conqueror With a Taste for Art," 24 Nov. 2018 Now, after the savage slaying of a Boca Raton woman when her washer and dryer were delivered, tremors of fear are shaking South Florida. Lisa J. Huriash,, "How can you be sure the deliveryman isn’t a killer? Mostly, you can’t.," 24 Aug. 2019 Four people needlessly lost their lives tonight from this savage suspect. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Stabbing Spree in Southern California Leaves 4 Dead and 2 Hurt. Here's What We Know So Far," 8 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The latest version ends simply with Willard leaving the camp and its ranks of hollow men, the savages who have mindlessly transferred their allegiance to the new alpha after the slaughter. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Greatest War Movie Ever Made," 10 Aug. 2019 Well, there was quite a savage sequence inside Dalton’s house, as an acid-tripping Booth took on one Manson follower at a time. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Ending of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Explained," 3 Aug. 2019 That guy is a good pitcher and but our guys are f---ing savages in that box. Dave Clark,, "Yankees manager Aaron Boone gets one-game suspension for 'savages in the box' tirade," 19 July 2019 Lisey Landon, sending her sadistic tormentor into interdimensional purgatory with a single savage blow from a ceremonial silver shovel? Beach book. Jennifer Weiner,, "Jennifer Weiner pens essay on beach reads for EW: 'I've tried to make peace with the label'," 17 June 2019 As John grew up, the legend of the local hero killed by savages swelled. Alex Perry, Outside Online, "The Last Days of John Allen Chau," 24 July 2019 American media followed the lead of their colleagues in France, hewing to the narrative of country-bumpkin savages gone berserk. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "A Play with No End," 22 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The Irish leader also savaged a favorite Johnson talking point, insisting that a British exit without a deal would only lead to more rounds of negotiation — not to an end to Britain’s Brexit agony., "Tuesday was the second time in as many weeks that Johnson has asked for Parliament to allow a fresh election, only to be rebuffed by a unified opposition.," 10 Sep. 2019 The letter savages Stephenson’s two biggest deals, the centerpieces of his strategy, his purchases of DirecTV in 2015 and Time Warner in 2018. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "The Battle Between AT&T and its Angriest Investor is Just Getting Started. Here’s What to Watch for Next," 10 Sep. 2019 One of those ejected from the party, former foreign office minister Alistair Burt, savaged Johnson in the House of Commons. Rob Picheta, Ivana Kottasová And Nina Dos Santos, CNN, "Boris Johnson fails in high stakes attempt to call snap general election," 4 Sep. 2019 In a Tuesday ruling, federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart savaged Wright for repeatedly misleading the court and generally wasting everyone's time. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Judge savages self-proclaimed bitcoin inventor Craig Wright," 28 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about savage

Statistics for savage

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for savage

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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