Synonyms & Antonyms of brutal

3 having or showing the nature and appetites of a lower animal
  • a coarse, brutal man who has no sense of what it means to be refined or sensitive or cultured

Synonyms for brutal

Words Related to brutal

Near Antonyms for brutal

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About brutal

How does the adjective brutal differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of brutal are bestial, brutish, and feral. While all these words mean "characteristic of an animal in nature, action, or instinct," brutal applies to people, their acts, or their words and suggests a lack of intelligence, feeling, or humanity.

a senseless and brutal war

When would bestial be a good substitute for brutal?

The words bestial and brutal are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, bestial suggests a state of degradation unworthy of humans and fit only for beasts.

bestial depravity

In what contexts can brutish take the place of brutal?

The words brutish and brutal can be used in similar contexts, but brutish stresses likeness to an animal in low intelligence, in base appetites, and in behavior based on instinct.

brutish stupidity

When is feral a more appropriate choice than brutal?

Although the words feral and brutal have much in common, feral suggests the savagery or ferocity of wild animals.

the struggle to survive unleashed their feral impulses

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brutal

Time Traveler for brutal

Time Traveler

The first known use of brutal was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Brutal.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brutal

Dictionary: Definition of brutal

Nglish: Translation of brutal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brutal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on brutal

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!