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savage

[ sav-ij ]
/ ˈsæv ɪdʒ /
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adjective
noun
verb (used with object), sav·aged, sav·ag·ing.
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Origin of savage

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English adjective savage, saveage, sauvage, salvage, from Old French sauvage, salvage, savage, Anglo-French sawage, from Medieval Latin salvāticus, for Latin silvāticus, equivalent to silv(a) “woods” + -āticus adjective suffix; noun derivative of the adjective

synonym study for savage

1. See cruel.

historical usage of savage

English savage is also spelled saveage, sauvage, salvage in Middle English. Middle English also has the spellings Sawage and Suvage for surnames. The Middle English forms come from Old French sauvage, salvage, savage and Anglo-French sawage. The Old French and Anglo-French forms come from Medieval Latin salvāticus, a modification of Latin silvāticus “pertaining to forests or scrubland,” a derivative of the noun silva “woodlands, forest.”
The offensive noun sense “a member of a preliterate people regarded as uncivilized” dates from the second half of the 16th century. As it has been applied to the Indigenous people of the Americas, savage has a pernicious history of dehumanizing Native peoples and justifying their removal from ancestral lands and even their genocide. The word has been used to imply that Indigenous peoples lack the civilized qualities that would qualify them to be stewards of their lands, and to justify their removal and replacement. Further, the connotation that savages are capable of or prone to violence has justified retaliatory or preemptive violence against Indigenous people for hundreds of years.
The general use of the term to mean a “cruel, brutal person” and “rude, uncouth person” (uses that date from the early 17th century) and the use of savage as an adjective to describe flora and fauna are common and inoffensive. However, applying this noun or adjective to a people, especially a people of non-Western or non-European descent, has a painful colonial history and is considered disparaging and offensive.

OTHER WORDS FROM savage

Other definitions for savage (2 of 2)

Savage
[ sav-ij ]
/ ˈsæv ɪdʒ /

noun
Michael Joseph, 1872–1940, New Zealand statesman and labor leader: prime minister 1935–40.
Richard, 1697?–1743, English poet.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use savage in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for savage (1 of 2)

savage
/ (ˈsævɪdʒ) /

adjective
noun
verb (tr)
to criticize violently
to attack ferociously and woundthe dog savaged the child

Derived forms of savage

savagedom, nounsavagely, adverbsavageness, noun

Word Origin for savage

C13: from Old French sauvage, from Latin silvāticus belonging to a wood, from silva a wood

British Dictionary definitions for savage (2 of 2)

Savage
/ (ˈsævɪdʒ) /

noun
Michael Joseph. 1872-1940, New Zealand statesman; prime minister of New Zealand (1935-40)
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
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