atro·​cious | \ ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio) \

Definition of atrocious

1 : extremely wicked, brutal, or cruel : barbaric prisoners subjected to atrocious treatment
2 : appalling, horrifying the atrocious weapons of modern war an atrocious accident
3a : utterly revolting : abominable atrocious working conditions atrocious weather
b : of very poor quality atrocious handwriting

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Other Words from atrocious

atrociously adverb
atrociousness noun

Examples of atrocious in a Sentence

… much of the manufactured-home industry employed sales practices that were atrocious. The need for meaningful down payments was frequently ignored. Sometimes fakery was involved. Moreover, impossible-to-meet monthly payments were being agreed to by borrowers who signed up because they had nothing to lose. — Warren E. Buffett, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 In the hands of a succession of more or less sadistic colonial governors and prison officers, convicts, particularly repeat offenders, found themselves subjected to atrocious punishments, flogged, committed to chain gangs, kept in underground pits, starved, and bullied. — Caroline Moorehead, New York Review of Books, 16 Nov. 2006 It would seem that by now the Tigers might be weary of analyzing their roller-coaster season, sick of reliving their atrocious 9-23 start and comparing it with their recent hot streak. Sports Illustrated, 4 Sept. 2000 an atrocious period in the nation's history an atrocious crime that shocked even hardened members of the police force
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Recent Examples on the Web

Make no bones about it, Arsenal were atrocious at the back last season., "Kieran Tierney: 5 Reasons Why Arsenal Should Up Their Bid & Bring the Scot to North London," 23 June 2019 But a look at the scientific data behind the story finds that such a splashy takeaway is tenuous at best—and atrocious reporting at worst. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Debunked: The absurd story about smartphones causing kids to sprout horns," 21 June 2019 That was atrocious, and the media reported it as such. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Jim Acosta Describes Why He Attacks Trump," 21 June 2019 In the twelve years since Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s most reckless president, involved the army in his country’s drug wars, at least 150,000 of his fellow citizens have died violent, often atrocious, deaths. Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books, "A Reporting Life in Latin America," 6 June 2019 His lifelong project, in many ways, is an attempt to reconcile those two people: the penniless, bumbling foreigner who speaks atrocious English, and the cocksure Sarajevan who was once intelligent and cool and desirable—who was somebody. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Aleksandar Hemon’s Lost Eden," 6 June 2019 After an atrocious start, the Rockies have stayed relevant with a 9-1 homestand. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Newman: As Rockies return to Wrigley, they need to remember (and stash) some of last season’s wild-card magic for down the road," 4 June 2019 The only real problem was the choice of color, which was atrocious. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Look What Star Trek Fans Accidentally Did to This M41 Walker Bulldog Tank," 23 May 2019 Their struggles capped an all-around atrocious month. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals end franchise-worst month of June with another loss to Mariners," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atrocious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of atrocious

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for atrocious

Latin atroc-, atrox gloomy, atrocious, from atr-, ater black + -oc-, -ox (akin to Greek ōps eye) — more at eye

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Dictionary Entries near atrocious






à trois


Statistics for atrocious

Last Updated

2 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for atrocious

The first known use of atrocious was in 1604

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More Definitions for atrocious



English Language Learners Definition of atrocious

: very evil or cruel
: very bad


atro·​cious | \ ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio) \

Kids Definition of atrocious

1 : extremely brutal, cruel, or wicked an atrocious crime
2 : very bad atrocious weather atrocious manners

Other Words from atrocious

atrociously adverb behaved atrociously


atro·​cious | \ ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio) \

Legal Definition of atrocious

: characterized by extreme cruelty or viciousness atrocious assault and battery

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Comments on atrocious

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