sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij \

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
b : malicious
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 \

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


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.


What kind of savage could have committed such a terrible crime? what kind of savage would hurt a baby?


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

Myth 3: Neanderthals were more savage than us Getty Images/Canopy When scientists first recognized Neanderthals as a species slightly different from our own, the species was demonized. Julia Belluz, Vox, "7 bad science and health ideas that should die with 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 Veronica Mars Name a better teen spy who also has a talent for delivering savage comebacks. Seventeen, "The 20 Greatest TV Teen Dramas of All Time," 4 Dec. 2018 Aiming to knock down Laura Moser, a progressive Democrat and darling of the resistance who was running for Congress in Texas’s 7th Congressional District, the DCCC published a savage list of reasons Texans shouldn’t vote for her. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "Party Crashers: These Female Candidates Are Shaking Up The Midterms," 2 Nov. 2018 This savage world is available at,, and a pop-up shop in New York, with the Mall of America to follow. Fox News, "Rihanna surprises fans with Gigi and Bella Hadid in her Savage X Fenty runway show," 13 Sep. 2018 His countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. WSJ, "And the Fair Land," 21 Nov. 2018 The famously savage beauty vlogger responded to Manny's heartfelt video with nothing more than a couple of shady af likes. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Jeffree Star Rejects Manny 'MUA' Gutierrez's Apology in the Shadiest Way Possible," 23 Aug. 2018 Every day, the brave men and women of ICE are liberating communities from savage gangs like MS-13. Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News, "In White House tribute, Trump hails ICE, border agents as patriots and heroes," 21 Aug. 2018 When Diet Prada, that Instagram account of savage truth, spotted Vetements sweatshirts and T-shirts on super sale for 80% off across the Internet. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hang Up Your Hoodies, The Fashion Fairy Nymph Is Here," 10 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The platform routinely serves videos espousing neo-Nazi propaganda, phony reports portraying dark-skinned people as violent savages and conspiracy theories claiming that large numbers of leading politicians and celebrities molested children. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Congress missed another chance to hold big tech accountable," 12 Dec. 2018 The title of the episode raises the question of who is the savage here? Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 5," 3 Dec. 2018 Generations of explorers promoting heroic tales of often fatal expeditions, helped along by photographers reveling in the exotic, depicted an inhospitable landscape filled with savages. Austin Merrill, WSJ, "The Amazon: The Heart of the World," 3 Dec. 2018 But Mid90s is also more than that: rigorously unsentimental, hilarious in places, savage in others. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Jonah Hill Talks About His Powerful New Coming-Of-Age Film Mid90s, And Why He’s Glad We Don’t Stay 13 Forever," 17 Oct. 2018 During the third period of the Golden Knights' Game 1 win, with the game tied 4-4, Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson laid out Jonathan Marchessault with a savage hit that the Vegas forward never saw coming. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Tom Wilson delivers controversial hit again in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final," 28 May 2018 Rihanna is a master of many things — reinventing footwear, winning the Met Gala, among others — but her signature Bad Gal move is a savage clapping back to nonsense. Seventeen, "Rihanna Served Up a Perfect Clapback to Body Shamers," 6 June 2017 In 1998, however, a dispute over the nondescript border town of Badme turned into a savage, year-and-a-half-long war that claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides. Paul Schemm, Washington Post, "Ethiopia says it is ready to implement Eritrea peace deal and privatize parts of the economy," 5 June 2018 This summer, all our thirst traps and sext exchanges are hereby sponsored by Rihanna, the alpha and omega of savage. Allison P. Davis, The Cut, "Rihanna’s Lingerie Line Will Inspire You to Be Your Thottiest Self," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The film’s budget almost destroyed its studio, and reviewers savaged it upon release. Byrd Pinkerton, Vox, "13 of Vox’s best podcast episodes of 2018," 6 Dec. 2018 Dan Ingram, one of the first and wittiest of the Top-40 radio DJs who succeeded by savaging his own medium, died June 24 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Marc Fisher,, "Dan Ingram, early 'Top 40' DJ known for biting humor, dies at 83," 29 June 2018 The evidence of how popular climate-saving efforts are is playing out on the streets of Paris, as those who can afford less and have fewer economic opportunities savage the city. WSJ, "Good Incentives Are the Key to Climate Issues," 6 Dec. 2018 Plenty of now-classic films bombed at the box office and/or were critically savaged at the time of their release. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Complex networks study ranks the most influential films of all time," 3 Dec. 2018 There's a harrowing scene in Toy Story 3 where our intrepid heroes are savaged by kids who use Buzz Lightyear as a hammer, Slinky Dog as a slingshot, and Jessie as a paintbrush. Heather Cocks, Redbook, "Why I Let My Kids Break All the Rules," 7 July 2011 Dan Ingram, one of the first and wittiest of the Top-40 radio DJs who succeeded by savaging his own medium, died June 24 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Marc Fisher,, "Dan Ingram, early 'Top 40' DJ known for biting humor, dies at 83," 29 June 2018 Dan Ingram, one of the first and wittiest of the Top-40 radio DJs who succeeded by savaging his own medium, died June 24 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Marc Fisher, Washington Post, "Dan Ingram, popular DJ who poked fun at his own medium, dies at 83," 28 June 2018 Giuliani is now publicly negotiating with Mueller over whether or not Trump will sit for an interview while simultaneously savaging the broader investigation and Comey's role in all of it. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "Heeeeere's Rudy!: The Giuliani bomb has hit the White House," 3 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near savage

sauvignon blanc







Statistics for savage

Last Updated

4 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for savage

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

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More Definitions for savage



English Language Learners Definition of savage

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


sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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