the state or quality of being cruel.
cruel disposition or conduct.
a cruel act.
Law. conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering.
Contemporary Examples

Behind any veneer or acts of cruelty, we care for our partners and playmates very deeply and wish them no harm.
The Legal Dangers of Rough Sex Leon Marborough December 12, 2009

You write about war between 8-year-old girls, and their cruelty.
Karl Taro Greenfeld on His Novel “Triburbia,” Con Men, and Literary Success Nick McDonell August 8, 2012

Its power resonates down the decades, a truly remarkable, groundbreaking fantasy, full of cruelty and wonder.
Emma Thompson’s Favorite Movies, From ‘Mary Poppins’ to ‘Life of Brian’ Emma Thompson February 11, 2013

And, yes, I have neurotically adapted to the gladiator sport of celebrity culture, the cruelty of a life lived as a moving target.
Jodie Foster Blasts Kristen Stewart–Robert Pattinson Break-Up Spectacle Jodie Foster August 14, 2012

It’s the cruelty that makes for some of Proust’s best comedy.
David’s Bookclub: Sodom and Gomorrah David Frum September 28, 2012

Historical Examples

Such tales of cruelty and savagery were told of them as to be almost incredible.
Ranching, Sport and Travel Thomas Carson

The scene of Turkish cruelty was now transferred to the isle of Crete.
The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook

What cruelty is this for thee to mispryse the greatest humility that man can Imagin?
The Palace of Pleasure William Painter

Only, the cruelty must be whitewashed by a moral excuse, and a pretence of reluctance.
A Treatise on Parents and Children George Bernard Shaw

Our cruelty is a little less apparent, and more respectable.
Great Ralegh Hugh De Selincourt

noun (pl) -ties
deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
the quality or characteristic of being cruel
a cruel action
(law) conduct that causes danger to life or limb or a threat to bodily or mental health, on proof of which a decree of divorce may be granted

early 13c., from Old French crualté (12c., Modern French cruauté), from Latin crudelitatem (nominative crudelitas) “cruelty,” from crudelis (see cruel).


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