- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsatrocious, heartless, harsh, ruthless, inhuman, callous, cold-blooded, bitter, merciless, tyrannical, barbarous, vicious, evil, hateful, unkind, spiteful, brutal, painful, sadistic, wicked
Examples from the Web for cruel
His later books drew heavily from experiences and people he encountered at the bar, including the cruel captain in The Sea-Wolf.The Bars That Made America Great
December 28, 2014
Not to those in power, not to the cruel and inhumane, not to the wealthy.Jesus Wasn’t Born Rich. Think About It.
December 25, 2014
Hatuey replied that he would rather burn and be sent to hell than ever again encounter people as cruel as the Spanish.The Life and Hard Times Of The Family A Cuban Defector Left Behind
December 19, 2014
The story of Alstory Simon has all the scope and scale, the cruel reversals, and pointless waste of proper tragedy.Wrongly Imprisoned for 15 Years Thanks to an Innocence Project
November 13, 2014
Vsevolod Meyerhold, the great theater director, spoke of the effect the “angry, cruel headlines” had on his friend.When Stalin Met Lady Macbeth
November 9, 2014
They were kind-hearted and rarely did anything that was cruel.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
Supposing—— It was cruel to excite and upset her just for that; it made the pain worse.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
The contrasts were so cruel that they scorched the eyes of the soul.
Those who bring them on us seem captious, thoughtless, cruel.
"He is cruel, and the very incarnation of selfishness," he said.Weighed and Wanting
- causing or inflicting pain without pitya cruel teacher
- causing pain or sufferinga cruel accident
Word Origin and History for cruel
early 13c., from Old French cruel (12c.), earlier crudel, from Latin crudelis "rude, unfeeling; cruel, hard-hearted," related to crudus "rough, raw, bloody" (see crude). Related: Cruelly.