cruel Definition

  • 1willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it
  • 2causing or helping to cause suffering or unpleasantness to animals

Using cruel: Examples

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with how "cruel" can be used in various situations through the following examples!

  • Example

    It was cruel of him to leave her alone.

  • Example

    The treatment of prisoners was unnecessarily cruel.

  • Example

    The dog had been subjected to cruel treatment by its owner.

  • Example

    The children were punished in a cruel and unusual way.

cruel Synonyms and Antonyms

Synonyms for cruel

  • savage
  • brutal
  • barbarous
  • inhuman
  • vicious

Antonyms for cruel

Phrases with cruel

  • a form of punishment that is considered unacceptable due to its severity, cruelty, or inhumanity


    The death penalty is considered by some to be a cruel and unusual punishment.

  • to be harsh or unkind in order to help someone in the long run


    Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, like when you have to discipline your child for their own good.

  • cruel intentions

    a hidden or malicious motive behind seemingly kind or helpful actions


    I don't trust his offer to help me; I think he has cruel intentions.

Origins of cruel

from Old French 'cruel', from Latin 'crudelis', meaning 'rude, unfeeling'


Summary: cruel in Brief

The term 'cruel' [kruːəl] describes willful infliction of pain or suffering on others, or lack of concern about it. It can also refer to causing suffering or unpleasantness to animals. Examples include 'The treatment of prisoners was unnecessarily cruel.' and 'The dog had been subjected to cruel treatment by its owner.' The phrase 'cruel and unusual punishment' denotes unacceptable forms of punishment, while 'cruel to be kind' means being harsh to help someone in the long run.

How do native speakers use this expression?