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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 callousness
  • Your attempt to chide others into silence by representing your own callousness and cowardice as graciousness is appalling.
  • What this kind of austerity has bred is ethical callousness and inefficiency.
  • But, here and there, the breezy tone more than verges on callousness.
  • Having a different view of the government's role is not a sign of callousness or insanity.
  • There were more wars, more callousness more cruelty, more exploitation.
  • The budget cuts trim benefits for the unemployed but go easy on the rich, exposing the coalition to accusations of callousness.
  • One day, they will understand the callousness and bitterness and willful ignorance they currently represent.
  • The callousness with which poor people are deceived, ignored, and dismissed.
  • The discussion contains a number of inaccuracies and displays an offensive callousness toward crime victims in our society.
  • The callousness of our rulers may be undiscriminating.
British Dictionary definitions for callousness


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 callousness



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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callousness 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 callousness


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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