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

The movie’s pagan-commune plot is clearly derivative of the horror classic The Wicker Man — the brilliant 1973 version, not the atrocious Nicolas Cage remake. Ross Douthat, National Review, "Midsommar Casts a Transfixing Scandinavian Spell," 25 July 2019 American culture didn’t require Japanese internment to be as atrocious as Nazism to ultimately condemn its own treatment of the Japanese. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The “concentration camp” language debate is the wrong fight," 13 July 2019 The idea that continued U.S. support for the atrocious Saudi bombing campaign will help prevent suffering of the Yemeni people is laughable. WSJ, "The Saudis Are the Cause of Trouble in Yemen," 7 July 2019 The whirlwind season came to a sudden end in the Divisional Round playoff loss at Los Angeles, on a night where Dallas’s run defense was atrocious. Andy Benoit,, "Leighton Vander Esch’s Parents Reflect on Their Son’s Star Rookie Season," 24 July 2019 As a result, more people showed up closer to showtime, and the traffic on a mile-long stretch of Highway 120 and the mile of County Road D leading into Alpine’s lots was atrocious. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Heat wave and storms pass before Jimmy Buffett's joyous return to Alpine Valley Music Theatre," 21 July 2019 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

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

13 Aug 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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marked by turns or indirection

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