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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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.




  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
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


A cruel act or an instance of cruel behavior:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
grimmd, miskunnarleysi
sự tàn nhẫn


[ˈkrʊəltɪ] Ncrueldad f (to con, hacia) society for the prevention of cruelty to animalssociedad f protectora de los animales
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈkruːəlti] n
(= cruelness) [person] → cruauté f; [fate, decision] → cruauté f
(= cruel action) → cruauté f mental cruelty
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nGrausamkeit f(to gegenüber); (of remark, critic also)Unbarmherzigkeit f; cruelty to childrenKindesmisshandlung f; cruelty to animalsTierquälerei f; physical crueltyGrausamkeit f; mental crueltyseelische Grausamkeit
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈkrʊəltɪ] ncrudeltà f inv
mental cruelty → crudeltà mentale
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈkruːəl) adjective
1. pleased at causing pain; merciless. He was cruel to his dog.
2. causing distress. a cruel disappointment.
ˈcruelly adverb
ˈcruelty noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


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
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n crueldad f
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
of us will join any organization for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and by our words and acts and contributions work to prevent the perpetration of cruelties on animals.
Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after infinite treacheries and cruelties, should live for long secure in his country, and defend himself from external enemies, and never be conspired against by his own citizens; seeing that many others, by means of cruelty, have never been able even in peaceful times to hold the state, still less in the doubtful times of war.
Formerly they had dwelt in the Belgian Congo until the cruelties of their heartless oppressors had driven them to seek the safety of unexplored solitudes beyond the boundaries of Leopold's domain.
So profoundly ignorant of the nature of slavery are many persons, that they are stubbornly incredu- lous whenever they read or listen to any recital of the cruelties which are daily inflicted on its victims.
To this we could only repeat what we had said before: he then proposed to abate five thousand of his last demand, assuring us that unless we came to some agreement, there was no torment so cruel but we should suffer it, and talked of nothing but impaling and flaying us alive; the terror of these threatenings was much increased by his domestics, who told us of many of his cruelties. This is certain, that some time before, he had used some poor pagan merchants in that manner, and had caused the executioner to begin to flay them, when some Brahmin, touched with compassion, generously contributed the sum demanded for their ransom.