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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 callousness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Perhaps the fate of Niobe is no fable, but a type of the callousness of our nature.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • For all my callousness I was sick and unmanned by that which had befallen.

    The Suitors of Yvonne Raphael Sabatini
  • Her callousness was like a gust of wind upon the living embers of his fears.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • She looked at him in anger almost at what seemed a callousness.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
  • The callousness which he displayed in saying all this deeply pained his pious father.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
  • "Pooh, she didn't have to pay much," said Judith with the callousness of childhood.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther
  • His callousness was inhuman, and in my indignation I was not inclined to mince my words.

    The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
British Dictionary definitions for callousness


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 callousness



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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callousness 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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