verb (used with object), sav·aged, sav·ag·ing.

to assault and maul by biting, rending, goring, etc.; tear at or mutilate: numerous sheep savaged by dogs.
to attack or criticize thoroughly or remorselessly; excoriate: a play savaged by the critics.

Origin of savage

1250–1300; Middle English savage, sauvage (adj.) < Middle French sauvage, salvage < Medieval Latin salvāticus, for Latin silvāticus, equivalent to silv(a) woods + -āticus adj. suffix
Related formssav·age·ly, adverbsav·age·ness, nounhalf-sav·age, adjectivehalf-sav·age·ly, adverbpre·sav·age, adjectivequa·si-sav·age, adjectivequa·si-sav·age·ly, adverbsem·i·sav·age, adjectivesem·i·sav·age, nounun·sav·age, adjectiveun·sav·age·ly, adverbun·sav·age·ness, noun

Synonyms for savage

1. wild, feral, fell; bloodthirsty. 2. wild. 3. infuriated. 5. rough, uncultivated. 9. churl, oaf.

Synonym study

1. See cruel.

Antonyms for savage

1. mild. 2, 4. cultured. 5. cultivated. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for savages

Contemporary Examples of savages

Historical Examples of savages

  • From savages one cannot expect too much, not even from oneself.

  • The very drunk have the intuition sometimes of savages or brute beasts.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The savages instantly appeared, and applied their tomahawks to the door.

  • "These savages have their own way of making war," I answered, calmly.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • The children's children of these savages were still in the Valley.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for savages



wild; untamedsavage beasts of the jungle
ferocious in temper; viciousa savage dog
uncivilized; crudesavage behaviour
(of peoples) nonliterate or primitivea savage tribe
(of terrain) rugged and uncultivated
obsolete far from human habitation


a member of a nonliterate society, esp one regarded as primitive
a crude or uncivilized person
a fierce or vicious person or animal

verb (tr)

to criticize violently
to attack ferociously and woundthe dog savaged the child
Derived Formssavagedom, nounsavagely, adverbsavageness, noun

Word Origin for savage

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



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

Word Origin and History for savages



mid-13c., "fierce, ferocious;" c.1300, "wild, undomesticated, untamed" (of animals and places), from Old French sauvage, salvage "wild, savage, untamed, strange, pagan," from Late Latin salvaticus, alteration of silvaticus "wild," literally "of the woods," from silva "forest, grove" (see sylvan). Of persons, the meaning "reckless, ungovernable" is attested from c.1400, earlier in sense "indomitable, valiant" (c.1300).



"wild person," c.1400, from savage (adj.).



"to tear with the teeth, maul," 1880, from savage (adj.). Earlier "to act the savage" (1560s). Related: Savaged; savaging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper