Insensitive or indifferent to the feelings or suffering of others


US English

UK English

Part of speech



unfeeling, heartless, insensitive, uncaring, cruel, unsympathetic


compassionate, sensitive, caring, empathetic, tenderhearted, kind

Example sentences

  • He was accused of being callous, ignoring the pleas of the victims and offering no help.
  • The corporation was criticized for its callous approach to employee safety, cutting corners to save money.
  • She was shocked by his callous remark, insensitive to the struggles of others.


The word “callous” is commonly used to describe someone who is emotionally hardened or insensitive. A callous person may lack sympathy or empathy, and may be dismissive or uncaring towards the feelings and experiences of others. The term is often used to describe someone who is cruel or indifferent, especially towards people who are vulnerable or in need.

The word “callous” comes from the Latin word “callosus,” which means “hard-skinned” or “thick-skinned.” In addition to its primary usage to describe someone who is emotionally unfeeling, “callous” can also refer to physical characteristics such as rough or thickened skin.

The prefix “un-” can be added to the beginning of “callous” to create the word “uncallous,” which describes someone who is sensitive, empathetic, or caring. The suffix “-ness” can be added to “callous” to form the noun “callousness,” which refers to the quality of being unfeeling or insensitive.

There are a number of related words and phrases that share similar meanings to “callous.” For example, “hard-hearted,” “cold,” and “insensitive” all describe someone who lacks compassion or empathy. “Unfeeling,” “unsympathetic,” and “indifferent” are other words that can be used to convey a similar idea