atro·​cious | \ə-ˈtrō-shəs \

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 reviews for the add-on are atrocious thus far, with many complaints of poor performance or outright failure to function entirely, especially when handling large files. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Native support for Windows file sharing coming to Chrome OS," 11 Sep. 2018 Aid groups say conditions for migrants on the shores of lawless Libya are atrocious and accuse Italy of being complicit in the abuse of those migrants. Fox News, "EU leaders back Africa, Balkans migrant reception centers," 24 June 2018 Covington was a constant on the atrocious, 10-win team from two seasons ago, and also on the promising, 28-win team from last season. Marcus Hayes,, "Robert Covington's struggles cost the Sixers against Celtics in NBA playoffs elimination | Marcus Hayes," 11 May 2018 Orlando’s transition defense, an Achilles’ heel all season, was atrocious, as Simmons’ coast-to-coast dunk midway through the second quarter showed. Josh Robbins,, "Philadelphia 76ers crush Orlando Magic 118-98," 23 Mar. 2018 These are the top 10 kinds of awful out there, though some particularly atrocious humans seem to check off nearly every box on the list. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "The 10 Worst Roommates Everyone Lives With At Some Point," 10 July 2018 The case has shed light on Sudan’s atrocious record on women’s rights. Farid Y. Farid, Teen Vogue, "Noura Hussein Filed for an Appeal to Repeal Her Death Sentence and to Be Pardoned for Killing Her Rapist," 20 June 2018 Besides enduring treacherous journeys to America’s farms and slaughterhouses, foreign workers are also subjected to atrocious working conditions, suffering in secret. Gene Baur, Fortune, "Immigrant Farm Workers Endure Inhumane Conditions. Here’s What We Can Do," 8 June 2018 This being San Francisco, parking is atrocious, but fortunately, the festival partners with Everett Middle School, which has a sizable lot on 17th Street between Church and Sanchez. David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, "A day of fun at the Frameline film festival," 6 June 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

19 Nov 2018

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 \

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 \

Legal Definition of atrocious 

: characterized by extreme cruelty or viciousness atrocious assault and battery

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Comments on atrocious

What made you want to look up atrocious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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