Callous | Meaning, Definition & Examples

Callous is an adjective meaning ‘cruel’ or ‘lacking sympathy‘.

Examples: Callous in a sentence
In a callous act, the boss fired Jerome in front of his coworkers.

I don’t mean to be callous, but I’m not loaning you any more money.

Zadie is not usually callous; she was just having a bad day.

The doctor seemed callous when he delivered the bad news.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.


Calloused or callused

The adjective calloused (with an ‘o’) describes an area of skin that has been hardened by friction. While calloused is the standard spelling, callused (no ‘o’) is an accepted variant.

Examples: Calloused vs. callused
Annette’s fingers were calloused/callused from playing guitar.

Dion’s feet were calloused/callused from walking the Camino de Santiago.

The area of hardened skin itself is always called a callus (no ‘o’). Unlike callous (an adjective), callus is a noun.

Even though callused and calloused are interchangeable, callus and callous are not. So it would be incorrect to describe someone as ‘callus’ or to say that you had ‘a callous’.

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

Correct my document today

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

What is a synonym for ‘callous’?

Some synonyms for ‘callous’ include:

  • Brutal
  • Cruel
  • Hard
  • Harsh
  • Heartless
  • Inhuman
  • Insensitive
  • Unsympathetic
What is an antonym of ‘callous’?

Some antonyms (opposites) for ‘callous’ include:

  • Compassionate
  • Humane
  • Kind
  • Sensitive
  • Sympathetic
  • Tender
  • Understanding
  • Warm
  • Warmhearted

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Ryan, E. (2022, October 20). Callous | Meaning, Definition & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 11 June 2024, from

Is this article helpful?
Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.