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n. pl. cru·el·ties
1. The quality or condition of being cruel.
2. Something, such as a cruel act or remark, that causes pain or suffering.
3. Law The intentional infliction of physical or mental distress, especially when considered as a basis for granting a divorce.


n, pl -ties
1. deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
2. the quality or characteristic of being cruel
3. a cruel action
4. (Law) law conduct that causes danger to life or limb or a threat to bodily or mental health, on proof of which a decree of divorce may be granted


(ˈkru əl ti)

n., pl. -ties.
1. the state or quality of being cruel.
2. cruel disposition or conduct.
3. a cruel act, remark, etc.
4. Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.
[1175–1225; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin]




  1. (He’s always been) a bigger shit than two tons of manure —William Mcllvanney
  2. Cruel and cold as the judgment of man —Lord Byron
  3. Cruel as death —James Thomson

    This is from a double simile, the second part being “Hungry as the grave.”

  4. Cruel as love or life —Algernon Charles Swinburne
  5. Cruel as old gravestones knocked down and scarred faceless —James Wright
  6. (Nothing so) cruel as panic —Robert Louis Stevenson
  7. (She knew well the virtues of her singular attractiveness, as) cruel as shears —George Garrett
  8. Cruel as winter —Lewis J. Bates
  9. Crueller than hell —Algernon Charles Swinburne
  10. Cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness —The Holy Bible

    The ostrich reference appears both in Lamentations and the Book of Job.

  11. Cruelty on most occasions is like the wind, boisterous in itself, and exciting a murmur and bustle in all the things it moves among —Walter Savage Landor
  12. Evil, like good, has its own heroes —Francois, Due de La Rochefoucauld
  13. Had a persoality like a black hole —Jonathan Valin

    In his novel, Natural Causes, from which this is taken, Valin expands upon the simile with “He sucked in everything around him and gave nothing back in return.”

  14. A heart like a snake —Michael V. Gazzo
  15. Her coarseness, her cruelty, was like bark rough with lichen —Virginia Woolf
  16. He’s like a cobra. No conscience —William Diehl

    See Also: EVIL

  17. Mean as a man who’d make knuckle-bones out of his aunt —Anon
  18. Mean as a snake —John D. MacDonald
  19. Mean as cat shit —James Kirkwood
  20. Mean as cat’s meat —Somerset Maugham, quoted in New York Times Magazine article by Thomas F. Brady, January 24, 1954
  21. (That old scoundrel’s) mean as ptomaine —Richard Ford
  22. Mean as the man who tells his children that Santa Claus is dead —Anon
  23. Merciless as ambition —Joseph Joubert
  24. Merciless as bailiffs —Erich Maria Remarque
  25. Ordered her about like a convict —Nicholas Monsarrat
  26. Ruthless as a Gestapo thug —Raymond Chandler
  27. Ruthless as any sea —Beryl Markham
  28. So mean he would steal a dead fly from a blind spider —Anon
  29. Spiteful as a monkey —Frank Swinnerton
  30. Spiteful as the devil —Walter Savage Landor
  31. Treat us like mud off the bottom of the Hudson River —Rebecca West

    (E) Use men ruthlessly like pawns —Honoré de Balzac

  32. Walk all over [another person] like a carpet —Elyse Sommer
  33. Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline —Harriet Beecher Stowe
  34. Wickedness burns like fire —The Holy Bible/Isaiah

    The above has been modernized from “Wickedness burneth as the fire.”

  35. Would cut me down like a piece of grass —Jimmy Sangster
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.cruelty - a cruel actcruelty - a cruel act; a deliberate infliction of pain and suffering
abuse, ill-treatment, ill-usage, maltreatment - cruel or inhumane treatment; "the child showed signs of physical abuse"
impalement - the act of piercing with a sharpened stake as a form of punishment or torture
atrocity, inhumanity - an act of atrocious cruelty
2.cruelty - feelings of extreme heartlessnesscruelty - feelings of extreme heartlessness  
coldheartedness, hardheartedness, heartlessness - an absence of concern for the welfare of others
3.cruelty - the quality of being cruel and causing tension or annoyance
brutality, ferociousness, viciousness, savagery - the trait of extreme cruelty
murderousness - cruelty evidence by a capability to commit murder
malevolency, malice, malevolence - the quality of threatening evil



A cruel act or an instance of cruel behavior:
grimmd, miskunnarleysi
sự tàn nhẫn


[ˈkrʊəltɪ] Ncrueldad f (to con, hacia) society for the prevention of cruelty to animalssociedad f protectora de los animales


[ˈkruːəlti] n
(= cruelness) [person] → cruauté f; [fate, decision] → cruauté f
(= cruel action) → cruauté f mental cruelty


nGrausamkeit f(to gegenüber); (of remark, critic also)Unbarmherzigkeit f; cruelty to childrenKindesmisshandlung f; cruelty to animalsTierquälerei f; physical crueltyGrausamkeit f; mental crueltyseelische Grausamkeit


[ˈkrʊəltɪ] ncrudeltà f inv
mental cruelty → crudeltà mentale


(ˈkruːəl) adjective
1. pleased at causing pain; merciless. He was cruel to his dog.
2. causing distress. a cruel disappointment.
ˈcruelly adverb
ˈcruelty noun


قَسْوَة krutost ondskab Grausamkeit σκληρότητα crueldad julmuus cruauté okrutnost crudeltà 残酷 잔학함 wreedheid grusomhet okrucieństwo crueldade жестокость grymhet ความโหดร้าย zulüm sự tàn nhẫn 残忍


n crueldad f
References in classic literature ?
It was a body of cruelty so horrible that I am confident no normal person exists who, once aware of it, could ever enjoy looking on at any trained-animal turn.
Nevertheless, his barbarous cruelty and inhumanity with infinite wickedness do not permit him to be celebrated among the most excellent men.
Then he talked to all the boys very seriously about cruelty, and said how hard-hearted and cowardly it was to hurt the weak and the helpless; but what stuck in my mind was this, he said that cruelty was the devil's own trade-mark, and if we saw any one who took pleasure in cruelty we might know who he belonged to, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and a tormentor to the end.
This cruelty is something new I did not know in you.
The motions of these men were slow and solemn, as if there impended over their souls some preconception of horror and of cruelty.
Since thou dost in thy cruelty desire The ruthless rigour of thy tyranny From tongue to tongue, from land to land proclaimed, The very Hell will I constrain to lend This stricken breast of mine deep notes of woe To serve my need of fitting utterance.
Being himself more savage than the savage warriors of the Gomangani, he was not so shocked by the cruelty of them as he should have been, yet they did shock him.
The West Wind hangs heavy gray curtains of mist and spray before your gaze, but the Eastern interloper of the narrow seas, when he has mustered his courage and cruelty to the point of a gale, puts your eyes out, puts them out completely, makes you feel blind for life upon a lee-shore.
There is no cruelty greater than a woman's to a man who loves her and whom she does not love; she has no kindness then, no tolerance even, she has only an insane irritation.
Such will try to discredit the shocking tales of slaveholding cruelty which are recorded in this truthful Narrative; but they will labor in vain.
But it was not a shout of execration--not a yell of exultant cruelty.
This was putting the thing in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat MIGHT be cruelty to a boy, too.