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[rooth-lis] /ˈruθ lɪs/
without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless:
a ruthless tyrant.
Origin of ruthless
1300-50; Middle English; see ruth, -less
Related forms
ruthlessly, adverb
ruthlessness, noun
unrelenting, adamant, relentless. See cruel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ruthless
  • He could be ruthless or cruel with friends and, especially, family if they did not meet his expectations.
  • The only key to survival, and any measure of productivity, is ruthless time management.
  • But the job market is ruthless, and not everyone ends up as well positioned as they might have hoped.
  • They were ruthless opportunists with nothing to lose-except their lives.
  • They are ruthless opportunists, and they adopted a strategy of genocide because it seemed to be the simplest method available.
  • In the ruthless world of auto racing, aerodynamics can make the difference between stunning victory and fiery oblivion.
  • Cancer's endless mutability, its ruthless adaptation to survive, is being matched by resourcefulness.
  • The clever dishing out of contracts was matched by ruthless pricing.
  • They include a cool intellect, single-minded ambition and a willingness to be ruthless when required.
  • The secret police remain unaccountable, ruthless and omnipresent.
British Dictionary definitions for ruthless


feeling or showing no mercy; hardhearted
Derived Forms
ruthlessly, adverb
ruthlessness, noun
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 ruthless

early 14c., from reuthe "pity, compassion" (see ruth) + -less. Ruthful (early 13c.) has fallen from use since late 17c. except as a deliberate archaism. Related: Ruthlessly; ruthlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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