without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless: a ruthless tyrant.

Origin of ruthless

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at ruth, -less
Related formsruth·less·ly, adverbruth·less·ness, noun

Synonyms for ruthless

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for ruthlessly

Contemporary Examples of ruthlessly

Historical Examples of ruthlessly

  • It was to him preposterous, for she was one of that underworld against which he was ruthlessly at war.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • "I'll use my scissors and needle on them to-night," she said, ruthlessly.


    W. A. Fraser

  • But like all such overshadowed delights, their end came swiftly, ruthlessly.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • He must be dealt with out of hand, Trenchard opined, and dealt with ruthlessly.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • "I can't," said Jeff ruthlessly, when he had got her out of earshot.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for ruthlessly



feeling or showing no mercy; hardhearted
Derived Formsruthlessly, adverbruthlessness, noun
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 ruthlessly



early 14c., from reuthe "pity, compassion" (see ruth) + -less. Ruthful (early 13c.) has fallen from use since late 17c. except as a deliberate archaism. Related: Ruthlessly; ruthlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper