View synonyms for sadist


[ sey-dist, sad-ist ]


  1. Psychiatry. a person who has the condition of sadism, in which one receives sexual gratification from causing pain and degradation to another.
  2. a person who enjoys being cruel.

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of sadist1

First recorded in 1890–1920; sad(ism) + -ist

Discover More

Compare Meanings

How does sadist compare to similar and commonly confused words? Explore the most common comparisons:


Related Words

Discover More

About This Word

What is a sadist?

The word sadist is used to refer to a person who derives sexual satisfaction from other people’s pain and suffering, especially when they are the one inflicting that pain.

Sadist is also used more generally to refer to a person who enjoys being cruel to others, as in My boss is such a sadist that he enjoys making us work late and not paying us for it.  

The state or condition of being a sadist or engaging in such practices is called sadism. The adjective form is sadistic. Both terms can be used either specifically or generally.

In the context of psychology, the word sadism is used to refer to a disorder in which a person derives sexual pleasure from other people’s pain in a way that harms themselves or harms others without others’ consent. In casual use, such a person may be referred to as a sadist, but like any other disorder, it is usually preferred and recommended to use person-first language, as in a person with a sadism disorder.

The word sadist is often contrasted (or confused) with the word masochist, which refers to a person who gets sexual gratification from being on the receiving end of pain or humiliation, rather than from causing it. Masochism is considered a psychological disorder if the person who engages in such practices experiences distress (such as guilt or anxiety) during them or is unable to otherwise function as a healthy person.

The term sadomasochism combines both terms to refer to sexual practices in which one person is sexually gratified by inflicting pain and the other person is sexually gratified by being the receiver of pain. It is popularly abbreviated as S&M or SM (which appears in the related abbreviation BDSM).

Example: I’m starting to think my teacher is some kind of sadist who enjoys torturing students with homework.

Where does sadist come from?

The first records of the word sadist come from around 1890. The form sadism is older and is based on Marquis de Sade, the title of Donatien Alphonse François, a French novelist known for writing graphic stories involving characters who experience sexual arousal from inflicting pain on others. He was known for engaging in these practices himself.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to sadist?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sadist

What are some words that often get used in discussing sadist?

What are some words sadist may be commonly confused with?

How is sadist used in real life?

Sadist is most commonly used in a general way to refer to a person who seems to enjoy being cruel. In this way, it is always negative.