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[rooth-lis] /ˈruθ lɪs/
without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless:
a ruthless tyrant.
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 ruthlessness
  • The ruthlessness of the current academic job system tends to enforce conformity.
  • Systemic factors may have selected these individuals for ruthlessness.
  • The point is not to prohibit the personal, but to examine it with utter ruthlessness.
  • That's ruthlessness, that's true mean ole style imperialism.
  • He was seen as someone who lacked the drive-or, more flatteringly, the ruthlessness-to make it on his own.
  • It is not surprising that he was chosen for his capacity for ruthlessness.
  • His formal manners belong to the nineteenth century, but his artistic ruthlessness and freedom to the twentieth.
  • In the long run it is the bitterness and ruthlessness of the world of this theater that stays the hand.
  • Its climax was marked by ruthlessness and callous disregard for human life.
  • They can rely on their isolation, and on the sheer ruthlessness of their repression.
British Dictionary definitions for ruthlessness


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 ruthlessness



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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