Callous – Definition, Meaning, Synonyms & Antonyms

Callous - Definition, Meaning, Synonyms & Antonyms

Callous meaning is a lack of empathy or compassion, showing indifference to the suffering or feelings of others.

History of the Word Callous

Origin and Early Usage

The word callous finds its roots in the Latin word “callosus,” meaning hard-skinned. In the early 18th century, it entered the English language, originally describing the physical condition of having hardened or toughened skin.

Evolution of Meaning

Over time, the word’s meaning extended from physical hardness to emotional hardness. It began to represent a lack of sensitivity or empathy towards the suffering or feelings of others.

Contemporary Usage

In modern language, it remains a term used to describe individuals, actions, or behaviors that exhibit indifference, cruelty, or a lack of compassion. It is commonly used in situations where empathy and understanding are expected.

English (Callous As Adjective)


From the Latin callosus (hard-skinned) and the suffix “-ous,” indicating possession or characteristics.


Pronounced: /ˈkæləs/ (KAL-us).

Forms of Callous

Part of Speech Form
Adjective Callous
Comparative More callous
Superlative Most callous
Adverb Callously
Noun Callousness

Derived Terms 

  • Callously
  • Callousness


  • Spanish: Insensible
  • French: Insensible
  • German: Gefühllos
  • Italian: Insensibile
  • Portuguese: Insensível
  • Chinese (Simplified): 冷酷的 (Lěngkù de)
  • Japanese: 無感動な (Mukandō na)
  • Hindi: कठोर (Kathor)
  • Urdu: بے رحم (Be rahm)
  • Russian: Бездушный (Bezdushnyy)


  • Heartless
  • Unfeeling
  • Indifferent
  • Insensitive
  • Cold


  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic
  • Sympathetic
  • Tender
  • Caring

Examples Sentences

  • His callous remarks hurt her deeply.
  • The thief’s actions were callous.
  • The callous attitude towards their suffering shocked everyone.

FAQs (People May  Also Ask)

Q: What is the callous meaning?

Ans: It describes a lack of empathy or compassion, showing indifference to the suffering or feelings of others.

Q: When is callous typically used to describe a person’s behavior?

Ans: Callous is used to describe individuals or actions that exhibit cruelty, indifference, or a lack of compassion towards others.

Q: Can callous be used to describe both individuals and actions?

Ans: Yes, callous can describe both individuals who lack empathy and actions or behavior that demonstrate indifference or cruelty.

Q: Are there degrees of callousness?

Ans: It can have comparative and superlative forms. “More callous” describes greater indifference, and “most callous” denotes the highest level of heartlessness.

Q: What are some synonyms for callous?

Ans: Synonyms for callous include heartless, unfeeling, indifferent, insensitive, and cold.

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