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 old-fashioned + offensive : 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 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 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 In one of the more savage ironies of history, some two decades later the authors themselves were tried by such courts under Josef Stalin and sentenced to death. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "The Chauvin Trial and the Chelsea Handler Standard of Justice," 19 Apr. 2021 Maybe so back then, but this current group is hardly savage, especially from those entrusted to hit second, third and fourth on most days. Larry Fleisher, Forbes, "Off To Their Worst Start Since 1997, The New York Yankees Are Searching For Answers," 19 Apr. 2021 The group has a reputation for being particularly savage and is known for massacres, killing civilians, leaving body parts in public places and posting killings on the internet. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, "Mexico Drug War Fast Facts," 12 Apr. 2021 The absence of spectators has not just robbed tournaments of atmosphere and sapped the energy of players who thrive on it, but has also had a savage impact on finances. Reuters, CNN, "'We cannot survive', tennis counts the cost of empty stands," 11 Mar. 2021 Here, beauty exists in perfect balance, neither too tame nor too savage. Joshua Levine, Travel + Leisure, "Enjoy Pub Life, Sculpture Parks, and Classic Estates on a Scenic Trip Through Yorkshire, England," 7 Mar. 2021 If instead the stock goes up, our short seller loses, and, as institutional short sellers discovered with GameStop and other certain other equities, the losses can be savage. Steve Forbes, Forbes, "Ban Short Selling? A Big Mistake!," 2 Mar. 2021 This scenic park laps at the base of the Superstition Mountains, a sudden and savage wall of dark stone that rises from the desert floor. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona wildflowers 2021: See the desert bloom on these hikes and scenic drives," 19 Feb. 2021 The Home Alone 2 star is on his way out and President-Elect Joe Biden has the most savage response. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Where to Buy Joe Biden’s Hilarious “We Just Did” Hat," 14 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Artistic truth, in her books, is always a savage thing. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Rachel Cusk’s ‘Second Place’ Review," 30 Apr. 2021 Of the 11 field goals Walker made in his first three games back, none resonated more than his savage slam over Melli. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio Spurs' Lonnie Walker is back - and so is the team's joy," 14 Apr. 2021 The Mid-South is bracing for more severe weather as residents try to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of savage tornadoes that left several people dead and many homes destroyed. Peter Aitken, Fox News, "Mid-South recovers from deadly tornadoes as region braces for severe weather, more storms," 27 Mar. 2021 In other ways, its subject could not be more staggering in its scope, its savage, internecine central relationship serving as a bleak reminder of the ways in which the sexes have been socialized to be at odds, even in romance. Philippa Snow, The New Republic, "Love and Humiliation Are Inseparable in Acts of Desperation," 24 Mar. 2021 Fishkin describes Google's behavior in savage terms. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "How Google became a ‘click cannibal’," 23 Mar. 2021 With help from its 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the X4 M is also somewhat of a savage on the skidpad, achieving 0.97 g of lateral acceleration. Austin Irwin And Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, "The Quickest SUVs We’ve Ever Tested," 22 Mar. 2021 Newsom does, partly due to California’s peculiar referendum system and partly because of the pandemic’s savage run through this state of 40 million people, battering its poorest and its people of color far harder than others. Washington Post, "Gavin Newsom’s pandemic year: Mistakes, progress and political jeopardy," 19 Mar. 2021 The look was a simple yet stunning slay — perfectly fit for a two-time Grammy Award-winning artist and all-around savage. Aimee Simeon,, "Megan Thee Stallion’s Grammys Glam Featured A £2.99 Shine Mist," 15 Mar. 2021 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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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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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