Student Dictionary

2 entries found for savage.
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Main Entry: 1sav·age
Pronunciation: primarystresssav-ij
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English savage "untamed, wild," from early French salvage, savage, (same meaning), from Latin salvaticus, an altered form of earlier silvaticus "of the woods, wild," from silva "woods, forest"
1 : not tamed <savage beasts>
2 : very cruel and unrestrained <a savage beating>
3 : not cultivated : WILD <the savage wilderness>
4 : not civilized <savage customs>
- sav·age·ly adverb
- sav·age·ness noun
Word History In ancient times woods, forests, and other wild areas were frightening to many people who lived in towns and cities. Dangerous animals, like wolves and bears, lived in the wilds, and many humans who lived there were probably thought to be dangerous, too. The Latin word for "woods, forest" was silva, and from this came the adjective silvaticus, meaning "of the woods, wild." Later, the Latin word silvaticus came to be spelled salvaticus, and this spelling appeared in the French of the Middle Ages as savage, meaning "wild, untamed." Eventually it took on other meanings that city people associated with the forests: "cruel, brutal, fierce." All of these meanings were carried over into English when the word was borrowed as savage.

Pronunciation Symbols