Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Cruelty

What is the dictionary definition of Cruelty?

Dictionary Definition

a cruel act; a deliberate infliction of pain and suffering

  1. uncountable An indifference to suffering or positive pleasure in inflicting suffering.
  2. countable A cruel act.

n. the intentional and malicious infliction of physical or psychological pain on another. In most US states, various forms of “cruelty,” “extreme cruelty,” and/or “mental cruelty” used to be grounds for divorce if proved. This brought about a lot of unnecessary (and sometimes exaggerated or false) derogatory (nasty) testimony about the other party. There was little standardization of what constituted sufficient “cruelty” to prove a divorce should be granted. Starting in the 1960s “no-fault” divorce (sometimes now called “dissolution”) began to replace contentious divorces in most states, so that incompatibility became good enough grounds for granting a divorce.

Full Definition of Cruelty

Any act of inflicting unnecessary emotional or physical pain. Cruelty or mental cruelty is the most frequently used fault ground for divorce because as a practical matter, courts will accept minor wrongs or disagreements as sufficient evidence of cruelty to justify the divorce.

Synonyms For Cruelty

inhuman treatment, mercilessness, pitilessness, ruthlessness, cruelness

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Cruelty. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 22, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Cruelty. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 22, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Cruelty. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Cruelty are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 27th April, 2020 | 2 Views.