Definition of be cruel to be kind in English:

be cruel to be kind

phrase

  • Act towards someone in a way which seems harsh but will ultimately be of benefit to them:

    ‘George did not like being firm with Lennie but he knew that he had to be cruel to be kind’
    • ‘The boardroom view is that firms have to be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘It's a time-honoured cliché, but in this case it just happens to be true: sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘It's true what they say, sometimes you do have to be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘I for one prefer to be cruel to be kind, and never give donations to child beggars as I think they should be home in bed or at school not out on the streets begging.’
    • ‘In the countryside, there are times when you must be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘I'm just so glad he's home and I have to be cruel to be kind because I can't bear to go through that again.’
    • ‘It is being cruel to be kind as they would only end up killing themselves or someone else’.’
    • ‘I find a short sharp shock keeps them in line, you have to be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘Much as he hated doing it, he had to be cruel to be kind.’
    • ‘I don't want to hurt her, because she doesn't deserve to be hurt, but this is more of a case of cruel to be kind.’