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 The great fear in 1997 was that this savage new virus would reassort once more, and gain the superpower of easy human-to-human spread. Boyce Upholt, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2022 By comparing the original journals in his possession that aired these usually savage debates with their digital editions, Tiffert noticed that scores of articles had been excised from the online records. Richard Mcgregor, The Atlantic, 21 Aug. 2022 For days, Ukrainian fighters defended or contested the hilltop despite savage Russian bombardment from tanks, multiple rocket launchers and, ultimately, high-explosive FAB-500 bombs that destroyed much of the ridge itself, Nikolyuk said. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2022 But the digital natives were savage elsewhere on Twitter, while others tried to bridge the gap. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2022 But the Orchestre de Paris’s performance of the score, under Esa-Pekka Salonen, was properly savage, even raw — though also relished, unrushed. New York Times, 8 July 2022 What if your friends don't see your sassy and savage selfie caption as cute? Seventeen, 30 June 2022 The addition of Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons, the hilariously effete and savage leader of a Jewish London gang, was a stroke of brilliance. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 10 June 2022 Chile’s qualifying campaign ended in March, with a home defeat to Uruguay, after which there was the predictable hand-wringing, along with savage post-mortems of the team’s humiliating decline. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, 8 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There is a melancholy feeling for humanity and its sorrows alongside the savage realities. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, 21 Sep. 2022 History: The Rim Country Museum occupies an old forest ranger station and contains a wealth of artifacts and exhibits reflecting the history of the region, including the savage Pleasant Valley War. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 14 Sep. 2022 The various armies, domestic and foreign, the ever-shifting fronts, the savage battles, the parade of striking personalities—all are recounted here in riveting, and at times revolting, detail. Douglas Smith, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 Additionally, officials at LAHSA itself, the raid disrupted outreach efforts and dealt a savage blow the trust that its service workers had built with unhoused Angelenos. Nicholas Slayton, The New Republic, 12 Sep. 2022 Herman Tilke designed the track, which uses the topography of its location to create some savage elevation changes, with many corner apexes hidden by crests. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 9 Sep. 2022 The San Francisco 49ers’ fullback, employed at one of his savage sport’s most punishing positions, was stuck in a pain cycle. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Sep. 2022 Two men are inextricably bound after covering up the savage murder of a schoolmate. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2020 Maraniss, however, shatters the myth of the child-like savage. Louis Moore,, 25 Aug. 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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The first known use of savage was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 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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