cruelty

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cruelty

the infliction of pain or distress unnecessarily.

cruelty to animals
an offence under the Protection of Animals Act or similar legislation. The definition of unnecessary varies between countries and from time to time in the one country. Under the impetus of a great body of community compassion the threhold has been greatly lowered in recent times. Determination of the prevailing standard of cruelty can only be decided by the courts.
It is now taken to include, besides physical assault and surgery without anesthesia, deprival of food, water and shelter. The worst kinds of cruelty are susceptible to the heaviest penalty, under the classification of aggravated cruelty.
References in classic literature ?
He had no love for Numa, the lion, yet he bristled with rage when the blacks inflicted upon his enemy such indignities and cruelties as only the mind of the one creature molded in the image of God can conceive.
So profoundly ignorant of the nature of slavery are many persons, that they are stubbornly incredu- lous whenever they read or listen to any recital of the cruelties which are daily inflicted on its victims.
To this we could only repeat what we had said before: he then proposed to abate five thousand of his last demand, assuring us that unless we came to some agreement, there was no torment so cruel but we should suffer it, and talked of nothing but impaling and flaying us alive; the terror of these threatenings was much increased by his domestics, who told us of many of his cruelties.