Definition of cruelty in English:


Syllabification: cru·el·ty
Pronunciation: /ˈkro͞oəltē

noun (plural cruelties)

  • 1Callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering: he has treated her with extreme cruelty
    More example sentences
    • The casual, unthinking cruelty of children is brilliantly evoked here.
    • Maybe it was because of casual human cruelty.
    • A prince may be ruthless when it is prudent, but wanton cruelty is foolish.
    brutality, savagery, inhumanity, barbarity, barbarousness, brutishness, sadism, bloodthirstiness, viciousness, wickedness; lack of compassion, callousness, ruthlessness
  • 1.1Behavior that causes pain or suffering to a person or animal: we can’t stand cruelty to animals the cruelties of forced assimilation and genocide
    More example sentences
    • And the British middle and upper classes have perfected lethal cruelties for humiliating those who rise from below them.
    • But today's children are in no mood to suffer that cruelty in silence.
    • Harvey is at his best attacking Western intellectuals who supported communism without ever having to suffer its cruelties.
  • 1.2 Law Behavior that causes physical or mental harm to another, especially a spouse, whether intentionally or not.
    More example sentences
    • The jury was told that he had been convicted of grievous bodily harm and child cruelty against a girl in Essex in April 1998.
    • Her evidence was led in support of three so called specimen counts of rape, six of indecent assault and one of cruelty.
    • He pleaded not guilty to cruelty and claimed he had entrusted the puppies to a man called Phil.


Middle English: from Old French crualte, based on Latin crudelitas, from crudelis (see cruel).

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