Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    The intentional and malicious infliction of physical suffering upon living creatures, particularly human bsings; or, as applied to the latter, the wanton, malicious, and unnecessary infliction of pain upon the body or the feelings and emotions; abusive treatment; inhumanity; outrage. Chiefly used in the law of divorce, in such phrases as "cruel and abusive treatment," "cruel and barbarous trcatment," or "cruel and inhuman treatment," as to the meaning of which, and of "cruelty" in this sense, see May v. May, 62 Pa. 206; Waldron v. Waldron, 85 Cal. 251, 24 Pac. 649, 9 L. R. A. 487; Ring v. Ring, 118 Ga. 183, 44 S. E. 861, 62 L. R. A. 878; Sharp v. Sharp, 16 III. App. 348; Myrick v. Myrlck, 67 Ga. 771; Shell v. Shell, 2 Sneed (Tenn.) 716; Vignos v. Vignos, 15 III. 186; Poor v. Poor, 8 N. H. 307, 29 Am. Dec. 664; Goodrich v. Goodrich, 44 Ala. 670; Bailey v. Bailey, 97 Mass. 373; Close v. Close, 25 N. J. Eq. 526; Cole v. Cole, 23 Iowa, 433; Turner v. Turner, 122 Iowa, 113, 97 N. W. 997; Levin v. Levin, 68 S. C. 123, 46 S. E. 945. As between husband and wife. Those acts which affect the life, the health, or even the comfort, of the party aggrieved and give a reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, are called "cruelty." What merely wounds the feelings is seldom admitted to be cruelty, unless the act be accompanied with bodily injury, either actual or menaced. Mere austerity of temper, pefulance of manners, rudeness of language, a want of civil attention and accommodation, even occasional sallies of passion, will not amount to legal cruelty; a fortiori, the denial of little indulgences and particular accommodations, which the delicacy of the world is apt to number among its necessaries, is not cruelty. The negative descriptions of cruelty are perhaps the best, under the infinite variety of cases that may occur, by showing what is not cruelty. Evans v. Evans, A. Hagg. Const. 35; Westmeath v. Westmeath, 4 Eng. Ece. 238, 311. 312. Cruelty includes both willfulness and malicious temper of mind with which an act is done, as well as a high degree of pain inflicted. Acts merely accidental, though they inflict great pain, are not "cruel," in the sense of the word as used in stafutes against cruelty. Comm. v. McClellan, 101 Mass. 34.
    —Cruelty to animals. The infliction of physical pain, suffering, or death upon an animal, when not necessary for purposes of training or discipline or (m the case of death) to procure food or to release the animal from incurable suffering, but done wantonly, for mere sport, for the indulgence of a cruel and vindictive temper, or with reckless indifference to its pain. Com. v. Lufkin, 7 Allen (Mass.) 581; State v. Avery, 44 N. H. 392 ; Paine v. Bergli, 1 City CL It. (N. Y.) 160; State v. Porter, 112 N. C. 887, 16 S. E. 915, State v. Bos-worth, 54 Conn. 1, 4 Atl. 248; McKinne v. State, 81 Ga. 164, 9 S. E. 1091; Waters v. People, 23 Colo. 33, 46 Pac. 112, 33 L R. A. 836, 58 Am. St. Rep. 215.
    —Legal cruelty. Such as will warrant the granting of a divorce to the injured party; as distinguished from such kinds or degrees of cruelty as do not,' under the statutes and decisions, amount to sufficient cause for a decree. Legal cruelty may be defined to be such conduct on the part of the husband as will endanger the life, limb, or health of the wife, or create a reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt; such acts as render cohabitation unsafe, or are likely to be attended with injury to the person or to the health of the wife. Odom v. Odom, 36 Ga. 286.
    —Cruel and unusual punishment. See Punishment.