cruel

[ kroo-uhl ]
/ ˈkru əl /

adjective, cru·el·er, cru·el·est.

willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.
enjoying the pain or distress of others: the cruel spectators of the gladiatorial contests.
causing or marked by great pain or distress: a cruel remark; a cruel affliction.
rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly severe.

Origin of cruel

1175–1225; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin crūdēlis, equivalent to crūd(us) (see crude) + -ēlis adj. suffix

Related forms

Synonym study

1. Cruel, pitiless, ruthless, brutal, savage imply readiness to cause pain to others. Cruel implies willingness to cause pain, and indifference to suffering: a cruel stepfather. Pitiless adds the idea of refusal to show compassion: pitiless to captives. Ruthless implies cruelty and unscrupulousness, letting nothing stand in one's way: ruthless greed. Brutal implies cruelty that takes the form of physical violence: a brutal master. Savage suggests fierceness and brutality: savage battles.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cruel

British Dictionary definitions for cruel

cruel

/ (ˈkruːəl) /

adjective

causing or inflicting pain without pitya cruel teacher
causing pain or sufferinga cruel accident

Derived Forms

cruelly, adverbcruelness, noun

Word Origin for cruel

C13: from Old French, from Latin crūdēlis, from crūdus raw, bloody
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