savage; cruel; inhuman: a brutal attack on the village.
crude; coarse: brutal language.
harsh; ferocious: brutal criticism; brutal weather.
taxing, demanding, or exhausting: They're having a brutal time making ends meet.
irrational; unreasoning.
of or relating to lower animals.

Origin of brutal

1425–75; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Medieval Latin brūtālis. See brute1, -al1
Related formsbru·tal·ly, adverbhy·per·bru·tal, adjectivehy·per·bru·tal·ly, adverbnon·bru·tal, adjectivenon·bru·tal·ly, adverbo·ver·bru·tal, adjectiveo·ver·bru·tal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for brutal

Synonym study

1. See cruel.

Antonyms for brutal

1. kind. 6. human. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for brutal

Contemporary Examples of brutal

Historical Examples of brutal

  • Or perhaps it's a brutal revenge on me,—after thinking I'd only marry for money.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • After all, he could not be brutal with this guileless maiden.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • His voice seemed to him rough and brutal, but he did not mean it so.

  • I asked, more to soften the effect of Marvin's brutal remark than anything else.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Who could be so brutal as to blame so amiable, so candid a creature?

British Dictionary definitions for brutal



cruel; vicious; savage
extremely honest or coarse in speech or manner
harsh; severe; extremebrutal cold
Derived Formsbrutality, nounbrutally, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for brutal

mid-15c., in reference to the nature of animals, from Latin brutus (see brute (adj.)) + -al (1). Of persons, "fierce," 1640s. Related: Brutally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper