[S]urely there is cruelty and gross selfishness in cutting down for our own fleeting gratification that which would have ministered to the enjoyments of all for weeks or months. Frankly do I confess that I dislike a wanton floricide. He has robbed the world of a pleasure; he has blotted out a word from God's earth-written poetry. [New Monthly Magazine, April 1847]
late 14c., rigour, "harshness, severity in dealing with persons; force; cruelty," from Old French rigor "strength, hardness" (13c., Modern French rigueur), from Latin rigorem (nominative rigor) "numbness, stiffness, hardness, firmness; roughness, rudeness," from rigēre "be stiff" (from PIE root *reig- "stretch; be stretched; be stiff").
Also, in medieval medicine, "a sudden chill" (c. 1400). From early 15c. as "exactness, strictness without indulgence" (of discipline, the law, etc.). Compare rigidity. Rigorism "rigidity in principles or practice" (originally religious) is from 1704. Rigidist is by 1716.
1924, from scoff (v.) + law (n.). The winning entry (from among more than 25,000) in a national contest during Prohibition to coin a word to characterize a person who drinks illegally. The $200 prize was shared by two contestants who sent in the word separately: Henry Irving Dale and Miss Kate L. Butler.
Similar attempts did not stick, such as pitilacker (1926), winning entry in a contest by the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to establish a scolding word for one who deliberately mistreats animals (submitted by Mrs. M. McIlvaine Bready of Mickleton, N.J.).
early 15c., "of or belonging to animals, non-human," from Old French brut "coarse, brutal, raw, crude," from Latin brutus "heavy, dull, stupid, insensible, unreasonable" (source also of Spanish and Italian bruto), said to be an Oscan word, from PIE *gwruto-, suffixed form of root *gwere- (1) "heavy." Before reaching English the meaning expanded to "of the lower animals." Used in English of human beings from 1530s, "wanting in reason, blunt or dull of sentiment, unintelligent." The sense in brute force (1736) is "irrational, purely material."
Brute ... remains nearest to the distinguishing difference between man and beast, irrationality .... Brutish is especially uncultured, stupid, groveling .... Brutal implies cruelty or lack of feeling: as brutal language or conduct. [Century Dictionary]
As a class of crime in common law, also from c. 1300, from Anglo-French. The exact definition changed over time and place, and even the distinction from misdemeanor or trespass is not always observed. In old use often a crime involving forfeiture of lands, goods, or a fee or a crime punishable by death. Variously used in the U.S.; often the sense is "crime punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary."
"to tear with the teeth, maul," 1838, originally of animals (a bull, here "to gore with the horns"), from savage (adj.) or savage (n.). In late 19c. especially of horses, in reference to attacks on a person or other horse or animal.
He was up a second or so before me, and rushed at me open-mouthed ; but, on my getting on my legs, he stopped. No doubt, had I remained prostrate, he would have savaged me. I never liked a bad countenance before this, but I then resolved I would never buy another ; and I have kept my word. ["Harry Hieover," "Things Worth Knowing about Horses," London, 1859]
Earlier in a now-obsolete sense of "to act the savage, indulge in barbarism or cruelty" (1560s), also "to make savage" (1610s). Related: Savaged; savaging.
early 14c., monstre, "malformed animal or human, creature afflicted with a birth defect," from Old French monstre, mostre "monster, monstrosity" (12c.), and directly from Latin monstrum "divine omen (especially one indicating misfortune), portent, sign; abnormal shape; monster, monstrosity," figuratively "repulsive character, object of dread, awful deed, abomination," a derivative of monere "to remind, bring to (one's) recollection, tell (of); admonish, advise, warn, instruct, teach," from PIE *moneie- "to make think of, remind," suffixed (causative) form of root *men- (1) "to think."
Abnormal or prodigious animals were regarded as signs or omens of impending evil. Extended by late 14c. to fabulous animals composed of parts of creatures (centaur, griffin, etc.). Meaning "animal of vast size" is from 1520s; sense of "person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness, person regarded with horror because of moral deformity" is from 1550s. As an adjective, "of extraordinary size," from 1837. In Old English, the monster Grendel was an aglæca, a word related to aglæc "calamity, terror, distress, oppression." Monster movie "movie featuring a monster as a leading element," is by 1958 (monster film is from 1941).
early 15c., in reference to classical history, "a non-Roman or non-Greek," earlier barbar (late 14c.) "non-Roman or non-Greek person; non-Christian; person speaking a language different from one's own," from Medieval Latin barbarinus (source of Old French barbarin "Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbarus "strange, foreign, barbarous," from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange; ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (compare Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer").
Greek barbaroi (plural noun) meant "all that are not Greek," but especially the Medes and Persians; originally it was not entirely pejorative, but its sense became moreso after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments.
Also in Middle English (c. 1400) "native of the Barbary coast;" meaning "rude, wild person" is from 1610s. Occasionally in 19c. English distinguished from savage (n.) as being a step closer to civilization. Sometimes, in reference to Renaissance Italy, "a non-Italian." It also was used to translate the usual Chinese word of contempt for foreigners.
Barbarian applies to whatever pertains to the life of an uncivilized people, without special reference to its moral aspects. Barbarous properly expresses the bad side of barbarian life and character, especially its inhumanity or cruelty: as, a barbarous act. Barbaric expresses the characteristic love of barbarians for adornment, magnificence, noise, etc., but it is not commonly applied to persons: it implies the lack of cultivated taste .... [Century Dictionary, 1889]