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noun, plural cru·el·ties for 3.
  1. the state or quality of being cruel.
  2. cruel disposition or conduct.
  3. a cruel act.
  4. Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.
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Origin of cruelty

1175–1225; Middle English cruelte < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin crūdēlitāt- (stem of crūdēlitās). See cruel, -ity
Related formsan·ti·cru·el·ty, adjectiveself-cru·el·ty, noun, plural self·-cru·el·ties.


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2, 3. kindness.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cruelty


noun plural -ties
  1. deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
  2. the quality or characteristic of being cruel
  3. a cruel action
  4. law conduct that causes danger to life or limb or a threat to bodily or mental health, on proof of which a decree of divorce may be granted
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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 cruelty


early 13c., from Old French crualté (12c., Modern French cruauté), from Latin crudelitatem (nominative crudelitas) "cruelty," from crudelis (see cruel).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper