Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: Latin crudelis, from crudus; CRUDE1

cruel

adjective
     
cru‧el S3
1 making someone suffer or feel unhappy:
His death was a cruel blow.
Sometimes life seems unbearably cruel.
2 deliberately hurting people or animals [≠ kind]:
The prisoner was a hard, cruel man.
cruel jokes about mothers-in-law
It was a cruel, tactless thing to say.
cruel to
She was often cruel to her sister.
3

be cruel to be kind

to do something to someone that will make them upset or unhappy in order to help them in another way
cruelly adverb:
He was cruelly neglected by his parents.
WORD FOCUS: unkind WORD FOCUS: unkind
similar words: nasty, cruel, mean, inconsiderate, thoughtless, insensitive, unsympathetic, hard-hearted


See also
unkind

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary