Definition of brute in US English:



  • 1A savagely violent person or animal.

    ‘he was a cold-blooded brute’
    • ‘Traffic jitters and frustration turned nice people into bullies and brutes.’
    • ‘‘You were not made to live like brutes,’ Levi quotes, ‘but to follow virtue and knowledge.’’
    • ‘These form a virtual catalogue of Europe's vision of the New World's inhabitants, who were seen in turn as noble savages or heathen brutes.’
    • ‘All the stories that she had heard about Gryphon's made them out as brutes and violent beasts, but Osiris proved them wrong every day.’
    • ‘She was the only young girl in a tavern full of large ugly brutes.’
    • ‘The early humanoids traditionally characterised as ape-like brutes were deeply emotional beings with high-pitched voices.’
    • ‘Distraught pet owners have offered a reward to find the brute who slashed their cat with a knife and left it for dead with a 12-inch gash across its back and side.’
    • ‘On the other hand, we get the old chestnut of the renegade bandit who preys on travelers, except in this case, he's presented as a sadistic brute.’
    • ‘The Irish father is a brute of a colonial policeman who, when not violating his child, enjoys casually smacking her in the mouth.’
    • ‘If the people are not violent brutes then they are passive victims.’
    • ‘What about that line - every person, every single person had the potential to be a brute, a thug, a murderer - do you think that's true?’
    • ‘We cannot ourselves contribute to the stereotype that portrays these men as savage brutes unable to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.’
    • ‘It was cold out there and that horse was a notorious brute.’
    • ‘To others, we are a combination of animals, brutes, deviates, psychopaths, products of broken homes, or just plain psychologically unbalanced individuals.’
    • ‘But that, in a way, is what it is to be a human being: an aesthete and yet still a savage, a moral being with a brute's appetite.’
    • ‘Running contrary to the accepted belief that Neanderthals were nothing but savage brutes, the child - either a foetus aged seven months or a child no more than a few weeks old - had been buried in a grave.’
    • ‘The people who really could complain about being portrayed as sadistic brutes are the Roman soldiers.’
    • ‘But the popular image of Mary Shelley's monster as a lurching brute is a world away from her original vision.’
    • ‘Watching these distinguished gentlemen operate, we feel certain that the old stereotypes of Italian-American men as Mafiosi, brutes, sexual predators, or idiots are behind us.’
    • ‘My fellow men were ugly brutes, caring only for their immediate needs and base cravings.’
    savage, beast, monster, animal, sadist, barbarian, devil, demon, fiend, ogre
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    1. 1.1informal A cruel or insensitive person.
      ‘what an unfeeling little brute you are’
      • ‘Eventually, though, her Catholic aspirations to Protestant gentility and heavy-handed elocution lessons failed to soothe her brute of a husband.’
      • ‘The public would view the woman's affair as a sad, desperate attempt to gain some comfort in the hellish life her brute of a husband had imposed on her.’
      • ‘Among the people he knows in London are Wemmick, a clerk in Jaggers' office who becomes a friend, and Bentley Drummle, a horrible brute of a boy who begins to make moves on Estella.’
      • ‘He's a brute, an offense to human decency.’
      monster, devil
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    2. 1.2 Something awkward, difficult, or unpleasant.
      ‘a great brute of a machine’
      • ‘‘It will of course be a very different style,’ began the Home Secretary before sending down a brute of a ball at the new batsman.’
      • ‘It's a brute of a soundwave kicking me in the back of my neck.’
      • ‘It's a big brute of a hill, with a north-east trending ridge of almost three kilometres in length, much of it over the 800m mark.’
      • ‘The skipper did not even bother to be in Mumbai with the team, which eventually registered a dramatic victory on a brute of a pitch.’
      • ‘‘It was a brute of a ball from Cassar and I don't think I could have done anything to avoid it,’ added Vaughan.’
      • ‘Like everybody, I graduated from an unwieldy brute of a greenheart rod to the featherlight power of carbon fibre.’
      • ‘The written section was tough - hardly anything on quantum theory, and a brute of a paper on the cell chemistry of Micronesian diatomic plankton.’
      • ‘In the second innings, Singh made a start and had reached 15 when, in the over before lunch, Gilchrist sent down a brute of a bouncer.’
      • ‘After yesterday's brutal third round of the 105th US Open, it was a chastened field who scurried off for the sanctuary of the locker room, bruised and battered into submission by a brute of a course.’
      • ‘When Pietersen came to the wicket he barely survived an absolute brute of a ball reared up at him and almost gave McGrath a hat trick.’
      • ‘Wales were narrowly ahead in a Grand Slam, winner-takes-all brute of a game against France, who were cranking up the pressure through their fearsome pack.’
      • ‘In Donald's third over he produced a brute of a ball aimed straight at Atherton's throat.’
      • ‘So, not life or death here - just a brute of a golf course.’
      • ‘Imagine booking into this hotel, with its romantic associations, and being faced with this brute of a building’
      • ‘I was quite surprised by how easy it was to drive for such a big brute of a car and I found it easy to adapt to automatic in it.’
      • ‘Keith Hodgson was next to suffer, popping up an easy return catch to the bowler while Gavin Mories was the victim of another brute of a delivery, playing down the line of middle stump only to see the ball shatter off-stump.’
  • 2An animal as opposed to a human being.

    ‘we, unlike dumb brutes, can reflect upon our impulses’
    • ‘What I remember is that the film starred Will Fyffe, whose big black dog was rather an unreliable brute that was suspected of sheep worrying.’
    • ‘Some observers hypothesize that she had been indoctrinated to believe the malicious stereotype of the Ursidae as awkward, clumsy, ill-mannered brutes.’
    • ‘At one time a pack of them made an attack on Mr. Paschal's dog when tied within ten feet of the cabin, and but for prompt interference the canine would have furnished a supper for the hungry brutes.’
    • ‘The landing was home to a pair of scabrous aging brutes, a wolf dog (I suspect) and a forlorn Great Dane.’
    animal, beast, wild animal, wild beast, creature
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  • 1attributive Characterized by an absence of reasoning or intelligence.

    ‘a brute struggle for social superiority’
    • ‘Beating addictions needs more expert advice and just brute will-power is very unlikely to work.’
    • ‘The brute outvoting of one social group by another is not so much Mill's focus as the process by which majority opinion is formed and accepted as legitimate.’
    • ‘Animals are governed by brute instinct and lack the intellectual capacity to understand the nature of their situation or do much to improve it.’
    • ‘This means that even brute action is a form of contemplation, for even the most vulgar or base act has, at its base and as its cause, the impulse to contemplate the greater.’
    • ‘Davidson's reply will of course be to deny that brute animals have thoughts at all.’
    • ‘In today's society our environment and culture has shaped what was once a brute drive to reproduce, into skills and expertise which secure prominence and survival in the modern world.’
    • ‘Geertz writes that to claim that culture consists in brute patterns of behaviour in some identifiable community is to reduce it (the community and the notion of culture).’
    • ‘Reason, Morton said, was the faculty that differentiated man from brute beasts.’
    • ‘What kind of animals, what kind of brute beasts have we created in this land?’
    • ‘Someone who is unable to resist a craving, and who must, like a brute beast, do whatever the body demands, is more profoundly enslaved than someone subject to a human tyrant.’
    • ‘He was relieved to be somewhere peaceful rather than duking it out with Tom like some kind of brute animal, not that he wouldn't eventually fight Tom.’
    1. 1.1 Merely physical.
      ‘we achieve little by brute force’
      • ‘It's the only form of politics he knows: You foment a crisis, then use deceit, fear and brute force to impose your radical agenda.’
      • ‘Such relations, contributing to a sense of continuity bridge the gap between the listener and the brute physicality of the musical language.’
      • ‘But there's little hope that a bully who is accustomed to satisfying his craving for any substance through brute force would want to change now, even as disaster looms large on the horizon.’
      • ‘Unlike in some other sports, sheer athletic ability and brute strength play a less prominent role.’
      • ‘We stand to lose as long as we keep convincing other people in other parts of the world that the only way you can really resolve a dispute is by having more weapon strength, more brute force.’
      • ‘Unlike the hard martial arts, Tai chi is characterized by soft, slow, flowing movements that emphasize force, rather than brute strength.’
      • ‘The triumph of the strong over the weak and the effectiveness and inevitability of brute force are merely the working out of the natural order.’
      • ‘Sometimes brute strength and strategic maneuvers enable the intruder to force his way past the guard and into the tunnel, where the sparring resumes.’
      • ‘Tenderness is more of a show of strength than brute force, because it is harder to be compassionate than it is to be mighty.’
      • ‘It depends mostly on economic strength, backed up with intimidation and brute force.’
      • ‘But the people of Puerto Rico are also human beings with a right to live and prosper that brute force cannot deny.’
      • ‘On the one hand a dreamy excursion into one of the most exotic but desolate places in the world and on the other sheer brute physicality, the annual Marathon des Sables is seven days of exultation and desperation in the Sahara Desert.’
      • ‘For all their brute strength, tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles can be temperamental beasts, requiring frequent attention to get the best out of them.’
      • ‘Kain's character is the epitome of the physical character; brute force and power are his primary tools.’
      • ‘But Carrot is actually the figure in the unconscious of every policeman and every criminal, who stands for justice, and who makes policing something more than the exercise of brute force.’
      • ‘The possession of vast territory, raw physical resources, and brute power guarantees neither prosperity nor peace.’
      • ‘It was made up of ‘horse whisperers’, men who knew and passed on the secret of quickly breaking wild horses by bonding with them and earning their trust, rather than using brute force.’
      • ‘The power to hoist such weight is not all brute strength - though physical force is crucial.’
      • ‘I used to know a guy who said, ‘There is no problem so subtle or complex that it can't be solved by brute force and ignorance.’’
      • ‘I'm quite small like Bruce Lee was and martial arts are really about agility and skill, there's very little brute force involved.’
      physical, crude, fleshly, bodily, violent
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    2. 1.2 Fundamental, inescapable, and unpleasant.
      ‘the brute necessities of basic subsistence’
      • ‘Through brute necessity, we realized that there are a lot of things you can fix, commandeer, or re-tool on the fly, and that sometimes the best stuff happens that way.’
      • ‘Instead she just accepted this sleight of hand as a matter of brute fact.’
      • ‘Not everyone can or should be a tragedian, and art is often best not when it reflects brute reality but when it keeps alive what is forgotten or dimmed by the shadows.’
      • ‘The centrality of horses and the brute reality of the injury keeps it planted; this is a great story, gripping to read and giving a meaningful payoff at the end.’
      • ‘The first element has to do with the brute fact of economics.’
      • ‘The permanent features of our situation seem mere brute facts - to be endured or, if possible, gotten around.’
      • ‘Life Of Pi's implicit lesson is that faced with the brute reality of Nature, man is but a cork on the ocean.’
      • ‘Of course, there's a difference between skillful intervention, mismanaged intervention, and willful ignorance of brute facts.’
      • ‘In Western psychological thinking, shame has been more tied to competition than to the brute fact of dependency.’
      • ‘A moral and ethical position must be based on something more than the mere brute facts of the event.’
      • ‘Thus the behaviorist is entitled to the answer that the behavioral differences get explained in the ordinary way, as a means of an ongoing coping with the world of brute facts.’
      • ‘And what of the brute fact that such a demand has never been met?’
      • ‘You believe that matter is the sole or ultimate reality, in terms of which everything can be understood, and the material universe is a brute fact which requires no further explanation.’
      • ‘It is an abstract response to the brute reality of experience.’
      • ‘Perhaps morality is just a brute fact of the universe.’
      • ‘But underlying the brute numbers, which can bounce around in a misleading way, is the trend, and that is worth getting excited about.’
      • ‘Aesthetic values, on the other hand, are a celebration of mind over matter, a refusal to yield to the brute presence of the given, the triumph of imagination, anticipation and longing, over the world of things.’
      • ‘And even if this is only wishful thinking, only a hope, we must recall that hope is one of those small transcendences of brute necessity that imbue life with meaning.’
      • ‘By definition and in brute reality the world that an organism inhabits is part of that organism.’
      • ‘Of course we have to find some way to replace all this biosphere-wrecking stuff, but we also have to keep in mind the brute reality that nature will not cease pushing to reclaim her own the very instant we let down our guard.’
      sheer, pure, utter, downright, mere, plain, stark, absolute, out-and-out, direct
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Late Middle English (as an adjective): from Old French brut(e), from Latin brutus ‘dull, stupid’.