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[pit-i-lis, pit-ee-] /ˈpɪt ɪ lɪs, ˈpɪt i-/
feeling or showing no pity; merciless:
pitiless criticism of his last novel.
Origin of pitiless
late Middle English
First recorded in 1375-1425, pitiless is from the late Middle English word piteles. See pity, -less
Related forms
pitilessly, adverb
pitilessness, noun
unmerciful, implacable, relentless.
Synonym Study
See cruel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pitiless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her struggles met only the unbending, pitiless resistance of steel.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • I knew there must be help; some hand outstretched in a pitiless world.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • In fine, our fathers bore the brunt of more raging and pitiless elements than we.

    Old News Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • She wriggled her chin in his palm, trying to free herself from his pitiless staring.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • If there be a pitiless community in this world, it is a small New England village.

British Dictionary definitions for pitiless


having or showing little or no pity or mercy
Derived Forms
pitilessly, adverb
pitilessness, noun
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 pitiless

early 15c., from pity + -less. Related: Pitilessly; pitilessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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