Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Extremely ruthless or cruel.
  • adj. Crude or unfeeling in manner or speech.
  • adj. Harsh; unrelenting: a brutal winter in the Arctic.
  • adj. Disagreeably precise or penetrating: spoke with brutal honesty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Savagely violent, vicious, ruthless, or cruel
  • adj. Crude or unfeeling in manner or speech.
  • adj. Harsh; unrelenting
  • adj. Disagreeably precise or penetrating
  • adj. In extreme metal, to describe the speed of the music and the density of riffs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a brute.
  • adj. Like a brute; savage; cruel; inhuman; brutish; unfeeling; merciless; gross.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to or resembling a brute; brutish: as, brutal nature; “brutal kind,”
  • Hence—2. Savage; cruel; inhuman; unfeeling: as, brutal passions; brutal manners.
  • Rude; harsh; coarse; crude.
  • =Syn.2. Brutish, Beastly, etc. (see brute); unfeeling, ruthless, rude, rough, gross, merciless, barbarous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. disagreeably direct and precise
  • adj. harsh
  • adj. (of persons or their actions) able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering
  • adj. resembling a beast; showing lack of human sensibility

Etymologies

From Medieval Latin brutalis ("savage, stupid"), from brūtus ("dull, stupid"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Clinton said last week in Rome world powers must show the Syrian government that there are consequences for what she called a "brutal crackdown" on civilians.

    US Says Syrian Repression Only Spurs More Unrest

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says world powers must show the Syrian government that there are consequences for what she called a "brutal crackdown" on civilians.

    Clinton Urges World Reaction to Syria's 'Brutal' Crackdown

  • Organisers have called for a general strike in Oakland one day next week over what they called the "brutal and vicious" treatment of protesters there.

    Oakland mayor sorry for clash that injured Scott Olsen

  • When you use the word "brutal" to describe an extra 15 minutes of commuting time, what word is left to adequately describe the repeated violent rape of a 15 year old that leaves her unable to walk and unable to bear children?

    Lamar Vest: She's My Sister: Bringing Scripture Based Healing To Rape Survivors

  • And the leaders here are expressing both outrage and shock at what they call the brutal murder of two of their finest.

    CNN Transcript Nov 28, 2008

  • Mr. Bush speaking just outside the White House, he said there was no justification for what he called the brutal execution of a civilian Mr. Bush said was in Iraq trying to help it on its way to freedom and democracy.

    CNN Transcript May 12, 2004

  • The committee found that Mamasela was alone in his evidence that all Vlakplaas group members and a members of Security Police were involved in what he described as a brutal torture and murder of the deceased after they were abducted.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Q Just to follow up on that, Chirac said this morning in London that France is opposed to what they call brutal methods, in particular the use of force and sanctions.

    Press Briefing By Mike Mccurry

  • SARAJEVO - The U.N. said all three combatants in the Bosnian war were operating prison camps and published details of what it called brutal and degrading conditions in camps where Bosnian

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Boynton on hand to warn him with what he termed brutal bluntness that he was tempting Providence again.

    Under Fire

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Comments

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  • In the mud, on your knees
    Trying hard not to please
    Anyone, all the time
    Being a rebel's fine
    But you go all the way to being brutal.


    (Lazy line painter Jane, by Belle and Sebastian)

    November 13, 2008

  • Can also mean awesome in a dark way.

    December 30, 2006

  • In Ireland (especially Dublin), also a synonym for 'terrible' or 'awful'.

    December 13, 2006