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
b : malicious
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


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.


What kind of savage could have committed such a terrible crime? what kind of savage would hurt a baby?


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

But even this ferocious guardian was unable to prevent the grandfather’s savage murder by his oldest son, enraged by the decision to make a younger son the crown prince of Assyria. Richard Cork, WSJ, "A Conqueror With a Taste for Art," 24 Nov. 2018 Now, after the savage slaying of a Boca Raton woman when her washer and dryer were delivered, tremors of fear are shaking South Florida. Lisa J. Huriash,, "How can you be sure the deliveryman isn’t a killer? Mostly, you can’t.," 24 Aug. 2019 Four people needlessly lost their lives tonight from this savage suspect. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Stabbing Spree in Southern California Leaves 4 Dead and 2 Hurt. Here's What We Know So Far," 8 Aug. 2019 In the 30 years of savage conflict since the First Gulf War, the possibility of life without fire and fury grows increasingly remote. Peter Keough,, "In Focus: Werner Herzog offers up a desert diptych," 1 Aug. 2019 Opening a restaurant in San Francisco’s savage real estate market? Flora Tsapovsky, Bon Appétit, "Meet the 24-Year-Old Owner of Eko Kitchen, San Francisco's First Nigerian Restaurant," 31 July 2019 This savage trumpling of history was so dumb, and so funny, that much of the media ridiculed it and then briskly moved on, without dwelling adequately on some of the other bizarre things the president said. Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: Trumpling all over American history," 25 July 2019 The headmistress seems to revel in administering particularly savage forms of discipline, including a sort of solitary confinement that the youngsters call the Chokey. Deborah Martin,, "Villains are scene stealers in ‘Matilda,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast’," 18 July 2019 Pilecki received a savage blow to his mouth that dislodged two molars. Neal Bascomb, WSJ, "‘The Volunteer’ Review: A Noble Hero in a Savage New World," 12 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But a new advertising campaign that paired them with Native American imagery deepened wounds among a population whose ancestors were called savages and systematically killed. Washington Post, "Dior stokes outrage with new ad for its Sauvage fragrance," 30 Aug. 2019 The latest version ends simply with Willard leaving the camp and its ranks of hollow men, the savages who have mindlessly transferred their allegiance to the new alpha after the slaughter. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Greatest War Movie Ever Made," 10 Aug. 2019 Well, there was quite a savage sequence inside Dalton’s house, as an acid-tripping Booth took on one Manson follower at a time. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Ending of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Explained," 3 Aug. 2019 That guy is a good pitcher and but our guys are f---ing savages in that box. Dave Clark,, "Yankees manager Aaron Boone gets one-game suspension for 'savages in the box' tirade," 19 July 2019 Lisey Landon, sending her sadistic tormentor into interdimensional purgatory with a single savage blow from a ceremonial silver shovel? Beach book. Jennifer Weiner,, "Jennifer Weiner pens essay on beach reads for EW: 'I've tried to make peace with the label'," 17 June 2019 As John grew up, the legend of the local hero killed by savages swelled. Alex Perry, Outside Online, "The Last Days of John Allen Chau," 24 July 2019 American media followed the lead of their colleagues in France, hewing to the narrative of country-bumpkin savages gone berserk. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "A Play with No End," 22 July 2019 My guys are f------ savages in that f------ box, right? Ronald Blum,, "‘Savages’ sweep: Boone’s rant sparks Yankees over Rays in DH," 19 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Morrison was often savaged by conservative cultural critics. Caille Millner,, "Toni Morrison, conscience of a nation and first black woman to win Nobel Prize in literature, dead at 88," 6 Aug. 2019 But overall, Waters did a good job until his roster was savaged by graduate transfers to other schools. Terry Pluto,, "Cleveland State Basketball: New coach Dennis Gates facing a huge job -- Terry Pluto," 28 July 2019 The Afghan National Police, composed of 116,000 officers, many of them falsely enrolled on official manifests, is riddled with corruption and savaged almost daily by Taliban attacks and casualties. New York Times, "Young Afghan General Tries to Reform Police With American Way of War," 12 July 2019 The midi was an old style and shouldn’t have been earth shattering, but the show was savaged by critics. Marlen Komar, Vox, "The surprisingly controversial history of the midi-length skirt," 27 June 2019 Rory’s mouth was shiny with grease and Eustace had his face down almost on the plate, the pair savaging at their food with the shameless avidity of children. Colin Barrett, Harper's magazine, "The Alps," 22 July 2019 Then came Bill de Blasio, who savaged O’Rourke for promising to protect private insurance, with its sometimes exorbitant deductibles and premiums. Dara Lind, Vox, "4 winners and 3 losers from the first night of the Democratic debates," 27 June 2019 Further Reading Two weeks in, Fallout 76 is a lonely, glitchy, flawed mess Fallout 76 was savaged by critics (including our own) at launch for widespread glitches and half-baked content. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Did Fallout 76 launch too early or just in time to be saved?," 4 June 2019 Republican presidents know any Supreme Court nominee will be savaged no matter how sound a jurist or decent a person. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "She’s No Ted Kennedy," 27 Aug. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near savage

sauvignon blanc







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Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for savage

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on savage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savage

Spanish Central: Translation of savage

Nglish: Translation of savage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savage for Arabic Speakers

Comments on savage

What made you want to look up savage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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