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

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin callōsus hard-skinned, tough, equivalent to call(um) tough skin, any hard substance + -ōsus -ous
Related formscal·lous·ly, adverbcal·lous·ness, nounun·cal·lous, adjectiveun·cal·lous·ly, adverbun·cal·lous·ness, noun
Can be confusedcallous callus

Synonyms for callous

1. hard. 2. inured, insensible, obtuse. See hard.

Antonyms for callous

1. soft. 2. sensitive. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for callous

Contemporary Examples of callous

Historical Examples of callous

  • I think you will be able to take care of yourself in a cold and callous world.

  • He was hardened, steeped in guilt, and callous as to the sufferings of others.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • What a gladdening result for the sensation-loving minds of the callous!

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Is it the frequency of the punishment that has made you callous to the ignominy and the pain?

  • Imogen was deaf to their expostulations, and indurate and callous as adamant to their persuasions.


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for callous



unfeeling; insensitive
(of skin) hardened and thickened


pathol to make or become callous
Derived Formscallously, adverbcallousness, noun

Word Origin for callous

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

Word Origin and History for callous

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

callous in Medicine




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.