from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Savage brutality or cruelty.
  • noun A cruel or savage act.
  • noun The condition of being uncivilized or uncultured.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Brutal or inhuman conduct; barbarousness; savageness; cruelty.
  • noun An act of cruelty or inhumanity; a barbarous deed: as, the barbarities of war or of savage life.
  • noun Barbarism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The state or manner of a barbarian; lack of civilization.
  • noun Cruelty; ferociousness; inhumanity.
  • noun A barbarous or cruel act.
  • noun obsolete Barbarism; impurity of speech.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The state of being barbarous; brutality
  • noun countable A barbaric act
  • noun uncountable crudity
  • noun countable A crude act

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

  • noun a brutal barbarous savage act
  • noun the quality of being shockingly cruel and inhumane


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word barbarity.


  • “Their barbarity is a genetic thing; they have a biological propensity for violence and bloodshed.

    Athens Petitions PSC to Add Sparta to Entities : Law is Cool 2008

  • In spite of the seemingly inborn germs of ancient and modern Teutonic barbarity, is it ever going to be possible for the nations to settle their disputes otherwise than by the breaking of the universal eternal precept of the decalogue, "Thou shalt not kill."

    The Gospel of Peace 1915

  • One instance of their barbarity is given (v. 21): They gave me gall for my meat (the word signifies a bitter herb, and is often joined with wormwood) and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon) 1721

  • A moderate Catholic who supported Henri IV and shared a spirit of tolerance, he wrote, “Everyone calls barbarity what he is not accustomed to.”

    Champlain's Dream David Hackett Fischer 2008

  • A moderate Catholic who supported Henri IV and shared a spirit of tolerance, he wrote, “Everyone calls barbarity what he is not accustomed to.”

    Champlain's Dream David Hackett Fischer 2008

  • The custom personally affected her for the first time; worse than the barbarity was the indignity.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 96, October 1865 Various

  • I might have known when you came in, like an angel of mercy -- so shocked at the colonel's 'barbarity' -- that the real thing was going to begin!

    The Gadfly 1912

  • The idea is as old as the Temple of Agrigentum in 600 B.C., where the conquered Africans hold up the weight of the building, and recalls the barbarity of the primitive Sagas, which relate how the bleeding heads of enemies themselves were placed around the temples of the Norsemen.

    The Story of Rouen Theodore Andrea Cook 1897

  • Despite the narratives promoted by them, however, polls suggest that a significant number of Germans are increasingly becoming aware of the moral hollowness of such "unlimited solidarity" and beginning to recognize that barbarity must be called barbarity, no matter who the perpetrators are. 2009

  • Currently Obama is fast on track to becoming the second President in US history to approve of torture and the decline of the USA into a state of barbarism is picking up pace as this new administration slowly confirms intent to legitimise the very essence of barbarity, which is torture. newmatilda. com is an independent website of news, analysis and satire. - Comments 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.