early 13c., from Old French cruel (12c.), earlier crudel, from Latin crudelis "rude, unfeeling; cruel, hard-hearted," related to crudus "rough, raw, bloody" (see crude). Related: Cruelly. Latin medial -d- began to disappear 10c. in French: compare chance/cadentia, cheoir/cadere, joyeux/gaudiosus, juif/judaeus, moyen/medianus, obéir/obedire, séance/sedentia.
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