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[kal-uh s] /ˈkæl əs/
made hard; hardened.
insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:
They have a callous attitude toward the sufferings of others.
having a callus; indurated, as parts of the skin exposed to friction.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to make or become hard or callous.
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin callōsus hard-skinned, tough, equivalent to call(um) tough skin, any hard substance + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
callously, adverb
callousness, noun
uncallous, adjective
uncallously, adverb
uncallousness, noun
Can be confused
callous, callus.
1. hard. 2. inured, insensible, obtuse. See hard.
1. soft. 2. sensitive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for callous
  • We call a callous turncoat a "rat." Rats and mice, however, are giving scientists clues to the evolutionary origins of empathy.
  • People tend towards generosity after holding a warm cup of coffee, and are more callous after holding a cold drink.
  • Her anguished memories of painful treatment at the hands of callous and brutal doctors provide clues to her troubled psyche.
  • Other misadventures include demoralizing casting calls, conniving friends and a string of callous boyfriends.
  • It feels callous, even pathetic, to go on with business-as-usual while Haiti continues to reel from such a singular catastrophe.
  • But when she arrives, she finds her new husband is a callous plantation worker with drinking and gambling problems.
  • We shouldn't relax our standards, but we shouldn't be unnecessarily callous, either.
  • And some speakers even painted the singer as a martyr victimized by a callous news media and celebrity hounds.
  • The humans who wanted them killed were called bloodthirsty and callous.
  • Selody had told me how to make cuttings of the stems and let them sit on the counter overnight to callous over.
British Dictionary definitions for callous


unfeeling; insensitive
(of skin) hardened and thickened
(pathol) to make or become callous
Derived Forms
callously, adverb
callousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin callōsus; see callus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for callous

c.1400, "hardened," in the physical sense, from Latin callosus "thick-skinned," from callus, callum "hard skin" (see callus). The figurative sense of "unfeeling" appeared in English by 1670s. Related: Callously; callousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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callous in Medicine

callous cal·lous (kāl'əs)
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a callus or callosity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for callous

in dermatology, small area of thickened skin, caused by continued friction, pressure, or other physical or chemical irritants. In response to mild but repeated injury, the cells of the epidermis, the outermost horny layer of the skin, become more active, giving rise to a localized increase in horny tissue on the surface of the skin. Calluses are most frequently seen on the hands and feet. They are usually yellowish white, flat, and painless. When a callus is conical in shape, penetrating into the deeper layer of the skin and causing pain when pressed, it is called a corn

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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