[ kroo-uhl-tee ]
/ ˈkru əl ti /

noun, plural cru·el·ties for 3.

the state or quality of being cruel.
cruel disposition or conduct.
a cruel act.
Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cruelty

British Dictionary definitions for cruelty


/ (ˈkruːəltɪ) /

noun plural -ties

deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
the quality or characteristic of being cruel
a cruel action
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
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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper