Learn 20 Expressions Related to Cruelty

Cruelty can manifest in many forms, from blatant acts of aggression to subtle manipulations. In the English language, there are numerous expressions and idioms that encapsulate the essence of cruelty, often used to describe harsh actions or severe emotional misconduct. This blog post delves into 20 such expressions, providing clear meanings and concise examples to help you understand and perhaps recognize these patterns in conversation or literature.

Expressions Related to Cruelty

1. Kick someone when they’re down

Meaning: To mistreat someone who is already in a vulnerable position.

Example: Criticizing him after the failure was like kicking him when he was down.

2. Add insult to injury

Meaning: To make a bad situation even worse.

Example: Laughing at his mistake just added insult to injury.

3. Twist the knife

Meaning: To make someone’s suffering or distress worse.

Example: Bringing up her past failures really twisted the knife.

4. Rub salt in the wound

Meaning: To make someone’s unhappiness or discomfort more intense.

Example: He rubbed salt in the wound by winning and then boasting.

5. Turn a blind eye

Meaning: To ignore something, usually something unethical.

Example: They turned a blind eye to the bullying in the team.

6. Throw someone to the wolves

Meaning: To leave someone to face a difficult situation alone.

Example: When the scandal broke, his colleagues threw him to the wolves.

7. Hang out to dry

Meaning: To abandon someone in a difficult situation.

Example: After the error, her boss just hung her out to dry.

8. A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Meaning: Someone who pretends to be friendly but is actually harmful.

Example: He seemed nice, but was really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

9. Show no mercy

Meaning: To be completely unforgiving.

Example: The judge showed no mercy in the sentencing.

10. Cutthroat competition

Meaning: Ruthlessly competitive.

Example: The real estate market is known for its cutthroat competition.

11. Have a heart of stone

Meaning: To be unfeeling or cruel.

Example: She has a heart of stone, ignoring their pleas.

12. Cold-blooded

Meaning: Showing no sympathy or emotion.

Example: The plot was a cold-blooded scheme against the heir.

13. Burn bridges

Meaning: Destroy relationships in a harsh or final way.

Example: He burned his bridges when he publicly criticized his mentor.

14. Bear the brunt

Meaning: To suffer the worst part of an unpleasant or problematic situation.

Example: She bore the brunt of their anger unfairly.

15. Stab someone in the back

Meaning: To betray someone.

Example: His best friend stabbed him in the back by stealing the deal.

16. Give someone the cold shoulder

Meaning: To deliberately ignore someone.

Example: After the argument, she gave him the cold shoulder.

17. Drag someone through the mud

Meaning: To disparage or sully someone’s reputation.

Example: The article dragged his name through the mud.

18. Hit below the belt

Meaning: Act unfairly or cruelly.

Example: His comments about her family were hitting below the belt.

19. Scapegoat

Meaning: Blame someone else unfairly.

Example: They used him as a scapegoat for their own failures.

20. Throw someone under the bus

Meaning: To sacrifice someone else’s interests for one’s own gain.

Example: To save his own job, he threw his coworker under the bus.

Expressions Related to Cruelty