Savagely cruel or uncivilized


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



brutal, inhuman, savage, uncivilized, primitive, rough


civilized, gentle, humane, sophisticated, refined, cultured

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun barbarousnesses, barbarousness
Verb None
Adjective barbarous
Adverb barbarously

Example Sentences

  • The barbarous act of terrorism inflicted pain and suffering upon innocent civilians, leaving scars that may never fully heal.

  • Throughout history, barbarous conquerors have ravaged entire civilizations, leaving destruction and despair in their wake.

  • The barbarous treatment of prisoners of war shocked the international community, sparking calls for justice and human rights reforms.

  • The barbarous practice of slavery persisted for centuries, tearing families apart and robbing individuals of their basic human dignity.


The word “barbarous” has its origins in the Latin term “barbarus,” which originally referred to a non-Greek speaker or someone who did not conform to Greek cultural norms. Over time, the meaning of the word expanded to describe behavior that is savage, cruel, or lacking in refinement. “Barbarous” carries a negative connotation and is often used to characterize actions or customs that are considered uncivilized or morally reprehensible.

The root of “barbarous” lies in the Greek word “barbaros,” which imitates the sound of unintelligible speech. This root emphasizes the notion of the “otherness” or “foreignness” associated with those deemed outside of the cultural norms or customs of a particular society. The prefix “bar-” serves as an intensifier, reinforcing the sense of extreme or egregious behavior.

As an adjective, “barbarous” describes acts that are extremely cruel, brutal, or inhumane. It implies a disregard for moral standards or a lack of compassion towards others. The term is often used to depict atrocities, violent actions, or practices that defy accepted norms of decency.

“Barbarous” is a standalone adjective, without any common prefixes or suffixes. Its directness allows it to convey the harshness and lack of refinement that it denotes.

In summary, “barbarous” originated from the concept of non-Greek speakers and evolved to describe behavior that is savage, cruel, or lacking in refinement. The term reflects actions or customs that are considered uncivilized or morally reprehensible, carrying a negative connotation. Its history and usage serve as a reminder of the importance of compassion, empathy, and adherence to moral standards in society.