adjective ( –eler, –elest; Brit. –eller , -ellest )
causing pain or suffering : I can’t stand people who are cruel to animals.
• having or showing a sadistic disregard for the pain or suffering of others : the girl had a cruel face.
ORIGIN Middle English : via Old French from Latin crudelis, related to crudus (see crude ).
noun ( pl. –ties)
callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering : he has treated her with extreme cruelty.
• behavior that causes pain or suffering to a person or animal : we can’t stand cruelty to animals | the cruelties of forced assimilation and genocide.
• Law – behavior that causes physical or mental harm to another, esp. a spouse, whether intentionally or not.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French crualte, based on Latin crudelitas, from crudelis (see cruel ).