A polar bear in a zoo might look like an adorable giant stuffed animal, but if you met a hungry one in its native environment, it would seem more savage — wild and fierce — than cute.

Describing an animal as savage means that it is true to its wild, ferocious nature, but if you describe a person or the actions of a person as savage, it means “cruel” or “brutal.” A place can also be described as savage if it’s untamed, uninhabitable, and unwelcoming. When savage takes the form of a noun, it means “a brutal person,” and when it’s a verb it means “to attack ferociously.” Any way you use it, savage is uncivilized and violent.

Definitions of savage
  1. adjective

    without civilizing influences

    savage people”
    barbarian, barbaric, uncivilised, uncivilized, wild

    noncivilised, noncivilized

    not having a high state of culture and social development
  2. adjective

    wild and menacing

    feral, ferine

    untamed, wild

    in a natural state; not tamed or domesticated or cultivated
  3. adjective

    (of persons or their actions) able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering

    savage slap”
    barbarous, brutal, cruel, fell, roughshod, vicious


    reflecting lack of pity or compassion
  4. adjective

    marked by extreme and violent energy

    ferocious, fierce, furious


    acting with or marked by or resulting from great force or energy or emotional intensity
  5. noun

    a member of an uncivilized people

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    Germanic barbarian leader who ended the Western Roman Empire in 476 and became the first barbarian ruler of Italy (434-493)

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    anthropophagite, anthropophagus, cannibal, man-eater

    a person who eats human flesh
    head-shrinker, headhunter

    a savage who cuts off and preserves the heads of enemies as trophies

    a member of a hunting and gathering society

    a member of the Germanic people who overran Gaul and Spain and North Africa and sacked Rome in 455
    type of:

    primitive, primitive person

    a person who belongs to an early stage of civilization

  6. noun

    a cruelly rapacious person

    beast, brute, wildcat, wolf
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    type of:

    aggressor, assailant, assaulter, attacker

    someone who attacks

  7. verb

    attack brutally and fiercely

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    type of:

    assail, assault, attack, set on

    attack someone physically or emotionally

  8. verb

    criticize harshly or violently

    “The press
    savaged the new President”
    blast, crucify, pillory
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    type of:

    criticise, criticize, knock, pick apart

    find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws

Word Family