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
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 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


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

The notoriously savage YouTuber teamed up with bff Shane Dawson to release a full review of Kylie Skin, the latest millennial pink launch from the youngest Jenner. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson Dragged Kylie Jenner's Skincare Line to Filth," 3 June 2019 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 Turns out, the photo is also a savage depiction of some current political scandals. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's Extremely Close Oscars Pose Is Now a Meme," 25 Feb. 2019 Far from it, good and evil in the persons of David and Kevin—or one of Kevin’s savage alter egos—have at each other all over the City of Brotherly Love, with Elijah as the Don King of the piece, promoting their fights and egging them on. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Glass’ Review: Shyamalan Shattered," 17 Jan. 2019 The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star has had her fair share of iconic quotes on TV, but she's also known to (unapologetically) serve the most savage clapbacks on Twitter and Instagram. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "Kim Kardashian's Most Savage Quotes and Clapbacks of All Time," 4 Mar. 2019 The backlash was swift and savage: Phair was seen as a desperate sellout whose short skirts were unbecoming for a mother in her mid-30s. Allison Stewart,, "Liz Phair, still living in 'Guyville' 25 years later," 27 Apr. 2018 Teigen is a pro at throwing all kinds of shade at her singer husband, from innocent to the most savage. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Chrissy Teigen Has a Very Long, Hilarious History of Trolling John Legend," 17 July 2018 Fan art with savage, grittier renditions of pokémon regularly goes viral on the internet, accruing millions of page views and hits. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The internet’s horrified with Detective Pikachu," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Pavlik Morozov Is the Patron Saint of Cancel Culture," 2 July 2019 In fact, a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is often a way juries and prosecutors show more leniency in punishment than the savage crime deserves. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Life sentence often shows killers too much leniency," 27 June 2019 Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister were blamed for the death, but Olenna Tyrell, House Tyrell matriarch and total savage, admitted to organizing it before her own execution in season six. Glamour, "Every Time a Woman Has Saved the Day on Game of Thrones," 29 Apr. 2019 More specifically, women and their fatal glances and savage quips. Jill Gutowitz, Glamour, "The Women Were Absolutely Savage on Last Night's Game of Thrones Premiere," 15 Apr. 2019 Here are some of our favorite savage Instagram captions... Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "35 Best Instagram Captions for When You're Feeling Savage," 15 Oct. 2018 Crusoe keeps Friday as a servant, implying that the best way to civilize a savage is to subordinate him. Pallavi Kottamasu,, "Were cannibals really so bad?," 2 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Further Reading Two weeks in, Fallout 76 is a lonely, glitchy, flawed mess Fallout 76 was savaged by critics (including our own) at launch for widespread glitches and half-baked content. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Did Fallout 76 launch too early or just in time to be saved?," 4 June 2019 Republican presidents know any Supreme Court nominee will be savaged no matter how sound a jurist or decent a person. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "She’s No Ted Kennedy," 27 Aug. 2018 Ahead, is Jimmy Fallon, the only late-night host who hasn't been savaging Donald Trump, now turning on him? (INAUDIBLE) is up next on the latest warfare between the president and the press. Fox News, "Media's Supreme Court scrutiny," 9 July 2018 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

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

21 Jun 2019

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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

 (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

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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characterized by aphorism

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