Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Origin: ruth 'pity' (12-19 centuries), from rue


1 so determined to get what you want that you do not care if you have to hurt other people in order to do it:
a ruthless dictator
They have shown a ruthless disregard for basic human rights.
2 determined and firm when making unpleasant decisions:
He ran the company with ruthless efficiency.
Throw away clothes you don't wear - be ruthless.
ruthlessly adverb:
The uprising was ruthlessly suppressed.
ruthlessness noun [uncountable]

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