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)

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The last part of the class gets even more savage, silly, loud, and weird. Aubree Nichols, Vogue, "’Tis the Season to Primal Scream," 29 Dec. 2020 The beef started in the seeding round of the bubble when Damian Lillard missed a clutch free throw late that got Patrick Beverley and Paul George chirping and led to a savage response from Dame. Joe Freeman, oregonlive, "Concerns grow about season as coronavirus surges, Trail Blazers preview, Kyrie Irving’s boycott, Damian Lillard in top 10, ‘spiciest’ games: NBA news and notes," 11 Dec. 2020 Naturally this gets sorted out in a savage pay-per-view MMA fight between father and son, in which the father radiates his willingness to murder his son in a fighting cage while thousands watch. al, "Mobile actor breaks through in ‘Embattled,’ movie filmed in Birmingham," 4 Dec. 2020 Saulnier plays up the claustrophobia of the location as the savage skinheads descend on his protagonists, building tension and suspense sequences with skill and ingenuity. Jason Bailey, New York Times, "Stream These 15 Titles Before They Leave Netflix in November," 11 Nov. 2020 After difficult conversations with family and a pep talk from his former high school coach, Parker is back to his affable self, ready to administer his most savage full-court press against the disease. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, "Loveland coach Darnell Parker on cancer diagnosis: 'I refuse not to attack this thing'," 3 Nov. 2020 Europe, in the throes of a savage second wave of the pandemic, is on the verge of a medical crisis, with intensive care units quickly filling to the breaking point. Washington Post, "With coronavirus exploding in Europe, hospitals calculate how long until they hit capacity," 31 Oct. 2020 Historian Michael Bell has been investigating local vampires for over 30 years and stated that the public hysteria almost invariably occurred in the midst of savage tuberculosis outbreaks., "Community News For The Windham Edition," 25 Sep. 2020 Historian Michael Bell has been investigating local vampires for over 30 years and stated that the public hysteria almost invariably occurred in the midst of savage tuberculosis outbreaks., "Community News For The Windham Edition," 25 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many things were said about Kylie's namesake makeup empire, but the most savage were probably Jeffree's comments on the brand in general. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Every Time Jeffree Star Has Publicly Feuded With the Kardashian/Jenner Family," 6 Jan. 2021 The futures market that opened for trading on Dec. 7 isn’t a harbinger of savage bloodletting over dwindling water supplies. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Wall Street can now bet on the price of California water. Watch out," 3 Jan. 2021 And that involved a savage murder, the murder of Karen Ermert. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, "Murder-suicide leads to history-making heart transplant, new life for DC woman," 26 Dec. 2020 Two men are inextricably bound together after covering up the savage murder of a schoolmate. Mary Sollosi,, "Sundance Film Festival announces lineup for 2021 digital fest, including starry directorial debuts," 15 Dec. 2020 Perhaps every savage retort is really a reflection of our need to be uncaged? Raven Smith, Vogue, "On Nigella Lawson's Pronunciation of "Microwave" and the Curse of Literal Interpretation," 9 Dec. 2020 President-elect Joe Biden is rapidly assembling a team of Washington hands with deep experience, projecting an image of cohesion that stands in contrast with the savage infighting often at play around President Donald Trump. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Jockeying for jobs: Tensions simmer inside Biden transition as new administration takes shape," 3 Dec. 2020 The details, with victims plucked from jails to meet mob justice, echo the savage vigilantism directed against African Americans for more than a century. Gaiutra Bahadur, The New Republic, "Is America Trapped in a Caste System?," 25 Nov. 2020 Ordinary people had known the state’s most savage cruelty, and its self-preserving entreaties rang hollow. Rana Dasgupta, Harper's Magazine, "The Silenced Majority," 24 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Trump scrambles to find new social network after Twitter ban, as White House prepares to blast big tech," 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,, "Repo men face a big year in 2021 as car payments go overdue," 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, "For UCLA’s Qwuantrezz Knight, football was an immediate hit," 19 Nov. 2020 The sometimes savage themes of her paintings have been interpreted as expressions of wrathful catharsis. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "A Fuller Picture of Artemisia Gentileschi," 28 Sep. 2020 There is no need to savage the opposing view on Facebook. Chris Jones,, "Column: Big Ten football is suddenly ‘safe’? In the reopening debate for sports and entertainment, that word is a lie.," 16 Sep. 2020 Among the world’s last island nations to remain officially virus-free is the Pacific archipelago, Vanuatu, that was just savaged by a cyclone. Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal," 15 May 2020 The debate included some of the fiercest exchanges of the Democratic primary, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders savaging Mr. Bloomberg’s wealth and the workplace environment at his company. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "Democratic Debate in Nevada: The Moments That Mattered," 20 Feb. 2020 He’d been publicly savaged for days for not closing the city’s school system, and even his own Health Department was in revolt at his inaction. Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, "Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California.," 16 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for savage

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for savage

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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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

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Comments on savage

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