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

Definition of savage

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 old-fashioned + offensive : lacking complex or advanced culture : uncivilized


plural savages

Definition of savage (Entry 2 of 3)

1 old-fashioned + offensive : 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 3)

transitive verb

: to attack or treat brutally

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 At its heart is a savage question: When drought is coming for everyone, who owns the flood? Susie Cagle, Wired, 12 Apr. 2022 Putin came to power in 1999 largely by waging a savage war against separatists in Russia’s mostly Muslim republic of Chechnya. Amy Hubbard, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2022 The Russian language has a word for bears that become extremely savage and ruthless: shatoon. A. Craig Copetas, Quartz, 4 Mar. 2022 Plenty of savage things happen in Xinjiang, but as far as the CCP is concerned, the repression there is a practical response to a practical problem. Jim Talent, National Review, 9 Feb. 2022 Neville Chamberlain has endured a savage historical appraisement. Brent Lang, Variety, 13 Jan. 2022 There is something savage, almost self-lacerating, about it. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 But while the audience tuned in, the critics were savage. Mark Peikert, Town & Country, 28 Jan. 2022 Park is absolutely savage to Ressler in this episode, who is disappointing her left and right. Jodi Walker,, 14 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The savage slaying was the culmination of Douglas Balsewicz's obsession with preventing his estranged wife from developing a relationship with another man. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 13 May 2022 Still, Edgar-Jones is quick to rebut any notion that Kya is a savage creature. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 10 May 2022 Hader and his co-creator Alec Berg exude confidence and almost a killer’s mentality themselves: their satire of Hollywood’s streaming era, especially via a plotline involving Sally as a showrunner on an autobiographical series, is savage. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 29 Apr. 2022 There's something obtuse about someone taking a savage glee in watching psychotics brutally murder dozens of people on T.V. Anthony Venditti, CBS News, 21 Apr. 2022 The violence that ensues is fiery, savage and relentless. NBC News, 20 Apr. 2022 Russia's attacks on Ukrainian civilians have grown more savage as its military falls short of its objectives. John Harwood, CNN, 10 Apr. 2022 The villages clung to the savage hillsides, radiant white, rinsed by violent winds. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2022 Colin Jost and Michael Che take savage digs at President Joe Biden. Andy Hoglund,, 17 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Aircraft armed with Quicksinks could savage more heavily defended convoys, particularly those ferrying amphibious marines, if another asset such as a submarine or B-1B bomber disabled or sank the convoy’s escorts. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 10 May 2022 This same ecosystem treats any and all mainstream coverage of Democrats that doesn't savage them as infected by hypocrisy and double standards. Damon Linker, The Week, 8 Dec. 2021 Every issue in our society seems to have a political angle that someone can savage for news cycle advantage. Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Meanwhile, Beijing’s recent crackdown on its domestic tech giants demonstrates the government’s willingness to savage the market cap of private industry. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 16 Sep. 2021 On Twitter, the outgoing president frequently leveraged his more than 88 million followers to savage his rivals, boost allies, and sometimes spread falsehoods on a viral scale. Author: Tony Romm, Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Jan. 2021 In the months after the pandemic started to savage the economy in March, consumer bankruptcy filings in South Florida trailed the numbers filed in 2019. David Lyons,, 21 Dec. 2020 At Maryland, punter Wade Lees watched Knight savage his teammates and realized upon transferring to UCLA a few years later that the Bruins could use that sort of ferociousness. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2020 The sometimes savage themes of her paintings have been interpreted as expressions of wrathful catharsis. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 28 Sep. 2020 See More

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


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

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

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Last Updated

20 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for savage


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

Savage biographical name

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

Definition of Savage

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

More from Merriam-Webster on savage

Nglish: Translation of savage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savage for Arabic Speakers


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