What does “brutish” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Authorized Version mentions “brutish” individuals some 13 times. What is the implication? Before commenting, it is important we look at the verses first:

  • Psalm 49:10: “For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.”
  • Psalm 92:6: “A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.”
  • Psalm 94:8: “Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?”
  • Proverbs 12:1: “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”
  • Proverbs 30:2: “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.”
  • Isaiah 19:11: “Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?”
  • Jeremiah 10:8,14,21: “[8] But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities…. [14] Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them…. [21] For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”
  • Jeremiah 51:17: “Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”
  • Ezekiel 21:31: “And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skilful to destroy.”
  • 2 Peter 2:12: “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;….”
  • Jude 10: “But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.”

Using the context clues in these passages, we see “brutish” and “brute” are associated with foolishness—especially a lack of knowledge, wisdom, or understanding. Basically, it is to be irrational or stupid. By the way, the Greek word rendered “brute” in 2 Peter and Jude is “alogos” (literally “no thought”), translated “unreasonable” in Acts 25:27: “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”

Also see:
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What does “sottish” mean?
» What is a “lunatick?”