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 callousness

Contemporary Examples of callousness

Historical Examples of callousness

  • 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

  • She looked at him in anger almost at what seemed a callousness.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Her callousness was like a gust of wind upon the living embers of his fears.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

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


    James Huneker

British Dictionary definitions for callousness



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 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

Medicine definitions for callousness




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.