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Syllabification: cru·el
Pronunciation: /ˈkro͞o(ə)l

Definition of cruel in English:

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).



Example sentences
  • I am convinced that there is no reason to treat the animals as cruelly as they are treated.
  • In those two weeks the nation's hopes of producing a tennis champion will reach fever pitch, only to be cruelly dashed.
  • Besides, I happen to think he was one of the most talented footballers ever to have his career cruelly cut short by injury.

Definition of cruel in:

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