Meaning of “cruel” in the English Dictionary

"cruel" in British English

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uk /ˈkruː.əl/ us /ˈkruː.əl/ crueller, cruellest or crueler, cruelest

B1 extremely unkind and unpleasant and causing pain to people or animals intentionally:

Don't tease him about his weight - it's cruel.
Children can be very cruel to each other.

causing suffering:

His death was a cruel blow.

More examples

  • It's so cruel to keep a pony chained up like that all the time.
  • Can't you see that you're really frightening your little brother? Don't be so cruel.
  • We appear to have been the victims of a cruel practical joke.
  • Fate played a cruel trick on him when he was badly injured in his first international game.
  • Keeping animals in these conditions is unbelievably cruel - the farmer ought to be prosecuted.
adverb uk /ˈkruː.ə.li/ us /ˈkruː.ə.li/

B2 in a cruel way

(Definition of “cruel” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"cruel" in American English

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us /ˈkru·əl/

extremely unkind and intentionally causing pain:

Her classmates made some cruel remarks.
Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?
I think it’s cruel to put a dog in a cage.
adverb us /ˈkru·ə·li/

She treated him cruelly before the divorce.

(Definition of “cruel” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)