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savage

adjective sav·age \ ˈsa-vij \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of savage

1 a :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
3 a :boorish, rude
  • the savage bad manners of most motorists
  • —M. P. O'Connor
4 :lacking complex or advanced culture :uncivilized
  • a savage country

savagely

adverb

savageness

noun

Examples of savage in a Sentence

  1. He was the victim of a savage attack.

  2. The coast was lashed by savage storms.

  3. He wrote savage satires about people he didn't like.

Recent Examples of savage from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of savage

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

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savage

noun

Definition of savage

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

Examples of savage in a Sentence

  1. What kind of savage could have committed such a terrible crime?

  2. what kind of savage would hurt a baby?

Recent Examples of savage from the Web

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.

First Known Use of savage

1578

Other Anthropology Terms


3

savage

verb

Definition of savage

savaged; savaging
transitive verb
:to attack or treat brutally

Examples of savage in a Sentence

  1. He looked like he'd been savaged by a wild animal.

  2. A hurricane savaged the city.

  3. The newspapers savaged his reputation.

Recent Examples of savage from the Web

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.

First Known Use of savage

1880


Savage

biographical name Sav·age \ ˈsa-vij \

Definition of Savage

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

SAVAGE Defined for English Language Learners

savage

verb

Definition of savage for English Language Learners

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


SAVAGE Defined for Kids

1

savage

adjective sav·age \ ˈsa-vij \

Definition of savage for Students

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

savagely

adverb
  • They fought savagely.

History for savage

In Latin the adjective silvaticus, (derived from the noun silva, “forest”) meant “growing or living in the forest.” Because forest life is wild rather than domesticated, the adjective easily took on the meaning “wild” in later Latin. Altered to salvaticus, the word passed into Old French as sauvage. When it was borrowed into Middle English, it kept the meanings “wild, uncultivated (of fruit)” and “untamed (of animals).” But sauvage could also be applied to humans, in which case its meanings could range from “not civilized, barbarous” to “fierce, cruel.” It is mainly the last sense that modern English savage brings to mind.


2

savage

noun

Definition of savage for Students

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


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