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[kroo-uh l-tee] /ˈkru əl ti/
noun, plural cruelties for 3.
the state or quality of being cruel.
cruel disposition or conduct.
a cruel act.
Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.
Origin of cruelty
1175-1225; Middle English cruelte < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin crūdēlitāt- (stem of crūdēlitās). See cruel, -ity
Related forms
anticruelty, adjective
self-cruelty, noun, plural self-cruelties.
1. harshness, brutality, ruthlessness, barbarity, inhumanity, atrocity.
2, 3. kindness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cruelty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Such tales of cruelty and savagery were told of them as to be almost incredible.

  • Your father has made up to us both for his cruelty and desertion.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • What cruelty is this for thee to mispryse the greatest humility that man can Imagin?

    The Palace of Pleasure William Painter
  • cruelty and inhumanity in civil cases were as great as under the Inquisition.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Our cruelty is a little less apparent, and more respectable.

    Great Ralegh Hugh De Selincourt
British Dictionary definitions for cruelty


noun (pl) -ties
deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
the quality or characteristic of being cruel
a cruel action
(law) conduct that causes danger to life or limb or a threat to bodily or mental health, on proof of which a decree of divorce may be granted
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 cruelty

early 13c., from Old French crualté (12c., Modern French cruauté), from Latin crudelitatem (nominative crudelitas) "cruelty," from crudelis (see cruel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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