adjective, cru·el·er, cru·el·est.
- willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.
- enjoying the pain or distress of others: the cruel spectators of the gladiatorial contests.
- causing or marked by great pain or distress: a cruel remark; a cruel affliction.
- rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly severe.
- causing or inflicting pain without pitya cruel teacher
- causing pain or sufferinga cruel accident
adj.early 13c., from Old French cruel (12c.), earlier crudel, from Latin crudelis “rude, unfeeling; cruel, hard-hearted,” related to crudus “rough, raw, bloody” (see crude). Related: Cruelly.