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From Middle English savage, from Old French sauvage, salvage (wild, savage, untamed), from Late Latin salvaticus, alteration of Latin silvaticus (wild"; literally, "of the woods), from silva (forest", "grove).


  • IPA(key): /ˈsævɪdʒ/
  • Hyphenation: sav‧age
  • (file)


savage (comparative more savage, superlative most savage)

  1. Wild; not cultivated.
    a savage wilderness
    • Dryden
      savage berries of the wood
  2. Barbaric; not civilized.
    savage manners
    • 1719- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      I observed a place where there had been a fire made, and a circle dug in the earth, like a cockpit, where I supposed the savage wretches had sat down to their human feastings upon the bodies of their fellow-creatures.
    • E. D. Griffin
      What nation, since the commencement of the Christian era, ever rose from savage to civilized without Christianity?
  3. Fierce and ferocious.
    savage beasts
    a savage spirit
  4. Brutal, vicious, or merciless.
    • 2016 Zootopia,
      Judy: I believe he, and this jaguar, they...they went savage, sir.
      Chief Bogo: Savage? This ain't the Stone Age, Hopps. Predators don't go savage.
    He gave the dog a savage kick.
    The woman was killed in a savage manner.
  5. (Britain, slang) Unpleasant or unfair.
    - I'll see you in detention.
    - Ah, savage!
  6. (Ireland, slang) Great, brilliant, amazing.
    Although it didn't look very good, it tasted absolutely savage.
    Synonyms: wicked; see also Thesaurus:excellent
  7. (heraldry) Nude; naked.



savage (plural savages)

  1. (derogatory) An uncivilized or feral human; a barbarian.
    • 1847, Benjamin Disraeli, Tancred: or The New Crusade, page 251:
      'Well, my lord, I don't know,' said Freeman with a sort of jolly sneer; 'we have been dining with the savages.'
      'They are not savages, Freeman.'
      'Well, my lord, they have not much more clothes, anyhow; and as for knives and forks, there is not such a thing known.'
  2. (figuratively) A defiant person.



savage (third-person singular simple present savages, present participle savaging, simple past and past participle savaged) (transitive)

  1. To attack or assault someone or something ferociously or without restraint.
  2. (figuratively) To criticise vehemently.
    His latest film was savaged by most reviewers.
    • 2013 August 10, Lexington, “Keeping the mighty honest”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      British journalists shun complete respectability, feeling a duty to be ready to savage the mighty, or rummage through their bins. Elsewhere in Europe, government contracts and subsidies ensure that press barons will only defy the mighty so far.
  3. (of an animal) To attack with the teeth.
  4. (obsolete, transitive) To make savage.
    • South
      Its bloodhounds, savaged by a cross of wolf.



Middle English

Alternative forms


Borrowed from Old French savage, from Late Latin salvāticus, from Latin silvāticus.


  • IPA(key): /saˈvaːdʒ(ə)/, /saˈvau̯dʒ(ə)/



  1. savage, barbaric, unmannered, primitive
  2. wild, untamed, harsh
  3. mighty, strong, powerful
  4. ferocious, angry, attacking, opposed
  5. (rare) demented, crazy, insane
  6. (rare) ill-thought, ill-advised

Derived terms


  • English: savage
  • Scots: savage