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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 ruthlessly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had found a kindred spirit, and it has been ruthlessly torn from her arms as kindred spirits so often are.

    Elizabeth and her German Garden "Elizabeth", AKA Marie Annette Beauchamp
  • "I can't," said Jeff ruthlessly, when he had got her out of earshot.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • He was ruthlessly sacrificing all who loved him, all whom he loved, to the Moloch of his own pride!

    The Spanish Cavalier Charlotte Maria Tucker
  • These, surprised in the midst of their wives and children, were all ruthlessly massacred.

    Les Parsis D. Menant
  • The jealousies which so weakened the Union armies during the first years of the Civil War were ruthlessly repressed.

British Dictionary definitions for ruthlessly


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 ruthlessly



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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