Definition of cruel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkro͞o(ə)l/

adjective (crueler, cruelest ; British crueller, cruellest)

1Willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it: people who are cruel to animals a cruel remark
More example sentences
  • After the death, staff at the home became intolerably cruel to her and made her life a living hell.
  • I basically told her to get out of my life because she was being so unfair and cruel to me.
  • She still felt guilty about how she had been deliberately cruel to him.
brutal, savage, inhuman, barbaric, barbarous, brutish, bloodthirsty, murderous, vicious, sadistic, wicked, evil, fiendish, diabolical, monstrous, abominable;
callous, ruthless, merciless, pitiless, remorseless, uncaring, heartless, stony-hearted, hard-hearted, cold-blooded, cold-hearted, unfeeling, unkind, inhumane
dated dastardly
literary fell
1.1Causing pain or suffering: the winters are long, hard, and cruel
More example sentences
  • What about the people who decided which inmates were to be subjected to these cruel and inhumane conditions?
  • The western community rose up to protest the cruel and inhumane punishment.
  • What other hideous and cruel things could happen in such a world that she lived in?
harsh, severe, bitter, harrowing, heartbreaking, heart-rending, painful, agonizing, traumatic
formal grievous


Middle English: via Old French from Latin crudelis, related to crudus (see crude).

Words that rhyme with cruel

accrual, construal, crewel, dual, duel, fuel, gruel, jewel, newel, renewal, reviewal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cru·el

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words