- 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 cruel on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for crueler
Chronic starvation, overwork, disease, and freezing temperatures were as effective as the bullet, only slower and crueler.Norman Manea Survived the Nazis and the Communists and Lived to Write About It
April 8, 2014
As the women got bolder, the times—or at least the men trying to outdo the times—got crueler.The Mad Men Finishing School
August 11, 2009
Rome of Csar, Rome of Peter,which was crueler, which was worse?
There is no crueler thing than a city crowd, all eyes and morbid curiosity.The Escape of Mr. Trimm
Irvin S. Cobb
He did not blame her—the crueler thing would have been to have told the truth.The Woman Gives
"Put his dust in his pocket," cried one, crueler than the rest.It Is Never Too Late to Mend
I think the men of my day were crueler as men and warmer as lovers.The Heart's Country
Mary Heaton Vorse
- causing or inflicting pain without pitya cruel teacher
- causing pain or sufferinga cruel accident
Word Origin and History for crueler
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.