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[kroo-uh l-tee] /ˈkru əl ti/
noun, plural cruelties for 3.
the state or quality of being cruel.
cruel disposition or conduct.
a cruel act.
Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.
Origin of cruelty
1175-1225; Middle English cruelte < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin crūdēlitāt- (stem of crūdēlitās). See cruel, -ity
Related forms
anticruelty, adjective
self-cruelty, noun, plural self-cruelties.
1. harshness, brutality, ruthlessness, barbarity, inhumanity, atrocity.
2, 3. kindness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cruelty
  • Think of the amount of brutality, the cruelty and the lies allowed to spread over the civilized world.
  • Humans should be ashamed of their cruelty and greed.
  • There are anti-cruelty laws that attempt to prevent people from harming or starving domestic animals.
  • Animals will be in pain when humans inflict cruelty on them.
  • It explains the general sense of xenophobia and cruelty of white people even.
  • Interestingly, the same cruelty also endangers the mahouts.
  • By the standards our governments have set, the life of a wild animal is cruelty.
  • She was yet alive when the governor, finding it impossible to add to his cruelty, ordered her to be thrown into the sea.
  • The cruelty shown him did little to check the movement.
  • The judge inquired in what part of the world that was, and ordered him to be tormented with fresh cruelty.
British Dictionary definitions for cruelty


noun (pl) -ties
deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
the quality or characteristic of being cruel
a cruel action
(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 & 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 cruelty

early 13c., from Old French crualté (12c., Modern French cruauté), from Latin crudelitatem (nominative crudelitas) "cruelty," from crudelis (see cruel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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