Share this entry

Share this page


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.

Words that rhyme with cruel

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

Definition of cruel in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day coxcomb
Pronunciation: ˈkäksˌkōm
a vain and conceited man; a dandy