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[kal-uh s] /ˈkæl əs/
made hard; hardened.
insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:
They have a callous attitude toward the sufferings of others.
having a callus; indurated, as parts of the skin exposed to friction.
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become hard or callous.
Origin of callous
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin callōsus hard-skinned, tough, equivalent to call(um) tough skin, any hard substance + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
callously, adverb
callousness, noun
uncallous, adjective
uncallously, adverb
uncallousness, noun
Can be confused
callous, callus.
1. hard. 2. inured, insensible, obtuse. See hard.
1. soft. 2. sensitive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for callouses
Historical Examples
  • You, too, should have callouses on your emotions by this time.

  • But there was a sparkle in his eyes, an ease of movement and callouses on his hands.

    Trading Jeff and his Dog James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • They were large and shapely, but the only callouses they could show were accusingly recent.

    The Real Man Francis Lynde
  • On my word the good wife and mother hasn't the kinks out of her fingers yet, nor the callouses from her hands, by Jove!

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • But the world, which veils the spirit and callouses the instincts, makes curiosity for most people the criterion of interest.

    The Story of Opal Opal Whiteley
  • "Fine, fine," Kerk said, rubbing his hands together so hard they could hear the harsh rasp of the callouses.

    Deathworld Harry Harrison
  • Get up before dawn, work like a slave, go out in the fields, ruin your hands with callouses.

    Luna Benamor Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • He felt her callouses grind and grate on his, and a great wave of pity welled over him.

    Martin Eden Jack London
  • As the callouses on the palms gave evidence of recent hard work, he was set free along with me.

    Tramping on Life Harry Kemp
  • He acquired a row of callouses on each hand and a chronic ache in his back, but beyond that he did not accomplish very much.

    The Lookout Man B. M. Bower
British Dictionary definitions for callouses


unfeeling; insensitive
(of skin) hardened and thickened
(pathol) to make or become callous
Derived Forms
callously, adverb
callousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin callōsus; see callus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for callouses



c.1400, "hardened," in the physical sense, from Latin callosus "thick-skinned," from callus, callum "hard skin" (see callus). The figurative sense of "unfeeling" appeared in English by 1670s. Related: Callously; callousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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callouses in Medicine

callous cal·lous (kāl'əs)
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a callus or callosity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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