The Meaning of Sadistic: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused by the definition of sadistic? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word sadistic, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word sadistic mean?

According to the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word sadistic is an adjective that refers to someone who finds pleasure in punishment, cruelty, aggression or the infliction of pain. In some cases, sadistic glee is used for sexual pleasure as in the BDSM community. In other cases, this extreme cruelty can lead to criminal charges. Some people find horror novels, like the Stephen King adaptation Lisey’s Story, sadistic. The suffix ly can be added to sadistic to form the adverb sadistically, or one can replace the suffix tic with the letter m to form the noun sadism. 

According to Mental Help, there is a mental health disorder called sadistic personality disorder. This, along with other personality disorders, has numerous symptoms. Primarily, the person will have sadistic personality traits and perform the use of emotional cruelty or cruel behavior in order to manipulate others to get what they want. However, the DSM-5 (the statistical manual of mental disorders) does ont include this disorder. A personality trait this person may exhibit can include narcissism, a preoccupation with sadistic acts, the suffering of others, or harm and discomfort in others, the use of fear to manipulate others, antisocial personality disorder, or sexual sadism disorder in which they receive sexual excitement from others’ pain. The dark tetrad of personality behaviours includes subclinical psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. These can be everyday people, everyday sadists that perform aggressive acts with no remorse. 

Numerous different languages around the world also contain words that mean sadistic. You may notice that many of these translations of sadistic look and sound similar to the word sadistic. These are called cognates. Cognates are words in different languages that look and sound similar, and these are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word sadistic is provided by Word Sense

  •  Danish: sadistisk‎
  •  Spanish: sádico‎
  •  Dutch: sadistisch‎
  •  Esperanto: sadisma‎
  •  French: sadique‎
  •  Portuguese: sádico‎
  •  Polish: sadystyczny‎ (masc.)
  •  Romanian: sadic‎ (masc.) (n)
  •  Russian: сади́стский‎
  •  Greek: σαδιστής‎
  •  Czech: sadistický‎
  •  German: sadistisch‎
  •  Norman: sadistique‎
  •  Hungarian: szadista‎
  •  Arabic: سادى‎
  •  Catalan: sàdic‎

What is the origin of the word sadistic?

According to Etymonline, the word sadistic hac been used since the 18th century Middle English. This word comes from the German sadistisch and French sadisme. This was the name of Count Donatien A.F. de Sade, who was notorious for cruel sexual practices he described in his novels.

What are synonyms and antonyms of sadistic?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word sadistic. Synonyms, which are words that have the same definition as other words or phrases, are very useful if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word sadistic is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  cold-hearted
  •  beastly
  •  unfeeling
  •  callous
  •  sadism
  •  bad
  •  uncaring
  •  fell
  •  savage
  •  fiendish
  •  fierce
  •  bestial
  •  inhumane
  •  wicked
  •  cold-blooded
  •  cruel
  •  pitiless
  •  coldblooded
  •  abusive
  •  atrocious
  •  brutish
  •  brutal
  •  violent
  •  abominable
  •  severe
  •  barbaric
  •  brute
  •  bloody
  •  ruthless
  •  uncharitable
  •  ferocious
  •  unsympathetic
  •  vicious
  •  barbarous
  •  unforgiving
  •  hard-hearted
  •  monstrous
  •  evil
  •  black
  •  remorseless
  •  bloodthirsty
  •  perverse
  •  unkind
  •  inhuman
  •  sick
  •  heartless
  •  diabolical
  •  harsh
  •  murderous
  •  merciless

There are also a great many words that mean the opposite of the word sadistic. These are called antonyms, and are useful to know, especially if you tend to negate words rather than simply using words that are the opposite of given words or phrases. This list of antonyms for sadistic is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  good
  •  complaisant
  •  attentive
  •  easy
  •  benign
  •  kind
  •  warmhearted
  •  good-hearted
  •  virtuous
  •  affectionate
  •  peaceful
  •  gracious
  •  kindhearted
  •  graceful
  •  cushionhearted
  •  kindly
  •  lenient
  •  humane
  •  exquisite
  •  courteous
  •  sympathetic
  •  compassionate
  •  not strict
  •  agreeable
  •  civil
  •  masochistic
  •  beneficent
  •  kind-hearted
  •  attractive
  •  chickenshit
  •  elegant
  •  amicable
  •  delicate
  •  affable
  •  bland
  •  fussy
  •  genial
  •  benevolent
  •  beneficial
  •  benignant
  •  amiable
  •  merciful
  •  tender
  •  bleeding-heart
  •  charitable
  •  accommodating
  •  clement
  •  fastidious
  •  friendly
  •  tenderhearted
  •  companionable

How can the word sadistic be used in a sentence?

The word sadistic can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize its definition. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes to test your knowledge of the English language and of the definitions of specific words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are several examples of the word sadistic to get you started incorporating this word into your everyday vocabulary. 

Not only were the cicadas thought to be the wings of war, the sound of them at all hours was sadistic in its own right. Those bugs were the bane of my existence during my youth growing up in the south.

The sadistic misogynist actor was canceled from his once-privileged film career after the accusations came forward. After the allegations were presented, he went into hiding and never made another film. 

She couldn’t believe the sadistic abuse that people tolerated working at the company. They are screamed at day in and day out, and none of them were allowed to log overtime. It was illegal, but they were all too afraid of getting fired to say anything. She wouldn’t stand for it.

Overall, the term sadistic means cruel and mean. A person who is sadistic takes pleasure in the pain and suffering of others. Sometimes, like in the BDSM community, this is used for pleasure for both parties. In other circumstances, sadism is criminal. 


  1. Sadistic Personality Disorder: The Cleveland Tragedy – Abuse | Mental Help 
  2. Sadistic definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. sadistic | Origin and meaning of sadistic | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. sadistic: meaning, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Sadistic synonyms – 342 Words and Phrases for Sadistic | Power Thesaurus 
  6. Sadistic antonyms – 74 Opposites of Sadistic | Power Thesaurus