savage 1 of 3


2 of 3




3 of 3


Synonym Chooser

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

Some common synonyms of savage are barbarous, cruel, ferocious, and fierce. While all these words mean "showing fury or malignity in looks or actions," savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion.

a savage criminal

Where would barbarous be a reasonable alternative to savage?

Although the words barbarous and savage have much in common, barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people.

barbarous treatment of prisoners

When would cruel be a good substitute for savage?

The words cruel and savage 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 can ferocious be used instead of savage?

While in some cases nearly identical to savage, ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality.

a ferocious dog

When might fierce be a better fit than savage?

The synonyms fierce and savage are sometimes interchangeable, but fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack.

fierce warriors

Thesaurus Entries Near savage

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on savage

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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