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
    “a savage people”
    synonyms: barbarian, barbaric, uncivilised, uncivilized, wild
    noncivilised, noncivilized
    not having a high state of culture and social development
  2. adjective
    wild and menacing
    synonyms: 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
    “a savage slap”
    synonyms: barbarous, brutal, cruel, fell, roughshod, vicious
    reflecting lack of pity or compassion
  4. adjective
    marked by extreme and violent energy
    synonyms: 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
    synonyms: barbarian
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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
    synonyms: 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”
    synonyms: 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

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