sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij How to pronounce savage (audio) \

Definition of savage

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 old-fashioned + offensive : lacking complex or advanced culture : uncivilized


plural savages

Definition of savage (Entry 2 of 3)

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 3)

transitive verb

: to attack or treat brutally

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective What if your friends don't see your sassy and savage selfie caption as cute? Seventeen, 30 June 2022 The addition of Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons, the hilariously effete and savage leader of a Jewish London gang, was a stroke of brilliance. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 10 June 2022 Chile’s qualifying campaign ended in March, with a home defeat to Uruguay, after which there was the predictable hand-wringing, along with savage post-mortems of the team’s humiliating decline. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, 8 June 2022 Honestly, Nevermind included some pretty savage mockery. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 22 June 2022 Indonesia’s second president, Suharto, had ruled the country since Sukarno was ousted in 1967, overseeing not only a savage repression of the left but also a financial meltdown in the 1990s. New York Times, 9 June 2022 Russia’s indiscriminate shelling of civilians, to say nothing of the heinous treatment of Ukrainians in places like Bucha, shows how savage wars for land can be. Leif Wenar, WSJ, 2 May 2022 And then there was Megan Thee Stallion, who lit up an unnamed nemesis with a savage new diss track. Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2022 On one hand, Russia's brutal and savage campaign against civilians offers a rare example of moral clarity -- good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. Aaron David Miller, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By JPMorgan’s calculations, the first half of 2020 saw the most savage compression in the past 30 years—beating the dot-com crash and the aftermath of the 2008 housing collapse. Dan Runkevicius, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 Louis captured the imagination of primal, savage sexuality in every way possible. Claire Shaffer, Rolling Stone, 31 July 2022 The line between the human world and the spirit one is very thin in Kaneto Shindo's atmospheric ghost story, which stands out thanks to its eerie blend of savage violence, domestic melodrama, and haunting romance. Katie Rife,, 30 July 2022 The heartbroken father of a UCLA graduate student brutally slaughtered in a random daylight attack in Los Angeles is outraged that the autopsy report containing graphic details of her savage murder was leaked to the press. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 29 July 2022 Mountain lions, like wolves, were miscast in our Western sagas as savage and indiscriminate killers. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2022 So far, Dill sounds a little more melodic and a little less savage than Bleaker, which evoked a mix of Nirvana, White Stripes and Sonic Youth. Matt Wake |, al, 15 July 2022 That would deal a savage blow to the former Soviet republic’s economy. Manuel Roig-franzia, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 But the actor, who died Wednesday at 82, constantly found ways to subvert his image, showing up in projects that gently satirized Sonny's savage machismo and seeking out roles that softened his edge, showing audiences a surprisingly vulnerable side. Daniel Arkin, NBC News, 7 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Aircraft armed with Quicksinks could savage more heavily defended convoys, particularly those ferrying amphibious marines, if another asset such as a submarine or B-1B bomber disabled or sank the convoy’s escorts. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 10 May 2022 This same ecosystem treats any and all mainstream coverage of Democrats that doesn't savage them as infected by hypocrisy and double standards. Damon Linker, The Week, 8 Dec. 2021 Every issue in our society seems to have a political angle that someone can savage for news cycle advantage. Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Meanwhile, Beijing’s recent crackdown on its domestic tech giants demonstrates the government’s willingness to savage the market cap of private industry. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 16 Sep. 2021 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, 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,, 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, 19 Nov. 2020 The sometimes savage themes of her paintings have been interpreted as expressions of wrathful catharsis. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 28 Sep. 2020 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Savage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for savage


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

Savage biographical name

Sav·​age | \ ˈsa-vij How to pronounce Savage (audio) \

Definition of Savage

Michael Joseph 1872–1940 prime minister of New Zealand (1935–40)

More from Merriam-Webster on savage

Nglish: Translation of savage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savage for Arabic Speakers


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