Synonym Chooser

How is the word barbarous different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of barbarous are cruel, ferocious, fierce, and savage. While all these words mean "showing fury or malignity in looks or actions," barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people.

barbarous treatment of prisoners

When might cruel be a better fit than barbarous?

The words cruel and barbarous can be used in similar contexts, but cruel implies indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it.

the cruel jokes of schoolboys

When is ferocious a more appropriate choice than barbarous?

In some situations, the words ferocious and barbarous are roughly equivalent. However, ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality.

a ferocious dog

When is it sensible to use fierce instead of barbarous?

While in some cases nearly identical to barbarous, fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack.

fierce warriors

When can savage be used instead of barbarous?

The words savage and barbarous are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion.

a savage criminal

Thesaurus Entries Near barbarous

Cite this Entry

“Barbarous.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

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