Definitions

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

  • adjective Of or resembling a beast.
  • adjective Marked by brutality or depravity; brutal or depraved.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Belonging to a beast or to the class of beasts; animal.
  • Having the qualities of a beast; brutal; below the dignity of reason or humanity; carnal: as, a bestial appetite.
  • noun In Scots law, the cattle on a farm taken collectively.
  • noun A work on zoölogy.

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

  • adjective Belonging to a beast, or to the class of beasts.
  • adjective Having the qualities of a beast; brutal; below the dignity of reason or humanity; irrational; carnal; beastly; sensual.
  • noun Scot. A domestic animal; also collectively, cattle.

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

  • adjective Beast-like

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

  • adjective resembling a beast; showing lack of human sensibility

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin bēstiālis, from Latin bēstia, beast.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin bēstiālis, from bēstia ("beast") (whence English beast).

Examples

  • Kit put down his head and pretended to run at him, whereat Jock, whom nobody else dared go near, beamed upon him with the solemn affection of "bestial" -- his great eyes shining in the light of the lamp with unlovely but genuine affection.

    Bog-Myrtle and Peat Tales Chiefly of Galloway Gathered from the Years 1889 to 1895

  • Knowing the youths were somewhat green and "bestial" --

    Complete Poetical Works

  • It is evident that he keeps a Bestiary, or record of his experiences in bestiology, otherwise called bestial eikonography; and if he be requested to give a more explicit definition of the article, he will perhaps inform you that it is a record of the types of the ecclesiological symbolisation of beasts.

    The Book-Hunter A New Edition, with a Memoir of the Author

  • Here it may be noted -- to indicate the wide prevalence of a custom which it would be unjust to animals to call bestial, because beasts never sink so low -- that Borneans, as Schwaner notes, marry off girls from three to five; that in Egypt child-wives of seven or eight can be seen; that Javanese girls may be married at seven; that North

    Primitive Love and Love-Stories

  • There's the black magic of the witch Sycorax, whose "bestial" son Caliban (Teagle E Bougere) Prospero has enslaved.

    Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

  • The Rhunes, however, consider Port Mar a most worldly place, characterized by shameless alimentation, slackness, laxity, and a kind of bestial lasciviousness to which they apply the term 'sebalism.'

    Marune: Alastor 933

  • Was that a kind of bestial derision that he detected in those blank grey eyes?

    Brave New World

  • I did not call the Germans "bestial," although unfortunately it is a fact that many officers of the army and others have been guilty of a brutality which has helped turn the face of the world from the whole German people.

    Face to Face with Kaiserism

  • A newspaper reported me as saying this on my own authority and added that I had said the Germans were the most "bestial" people on earth.

    Face to Face with Kaiserism

  • To piece together Larsen’s ideas on the “Age of Simplification and Deceit” which so magnificently frames the situation in America, “if citizens do nothing beyond the voluptuary or consumptive with their rights (beyond the bestial, that is as Hamlet would put it), then they may indeed lose both rights and republic” (212).

    Printing: The Erosion of Thinking

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