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 Last season, as has been well-documented, was atrocious by nearly every measure. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers mailbag: Yasiel Puig would be awesome. So why won't they sign him?," 7 Feb. 2020 The officiating certainly wasn’t atrocious in this one, not by the NFL’s standards. Ben Volin,, "Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-flying offense couldn’t be stopped en route to title," 2 Feb. 2020 Portland has been atrocious against the spread at home as of late, failing to cover in seven of its last eight games. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers odds, picks and best bets," 29 Jan. 2020 Ok, yes, that speaks volumes about how atrocious United's forwards were, but also highlights the ambition of the Englishman., "A Way Too Early Assessment of Manchester United's Summer Signings," 13 Oct. 2019 President Trump’s atrocious behavior in office has begun to sully the public image of many of his major donors, with billionaires like Equinox-owner Stephen Ross suffering boycotts waged by his high-income, left-leaning customers. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Family’s Big Secret Is Hiding in Plain Sight," 14 Aug. 2019 The Badgers lost this game in the first half when their execution on offense and effort on the glass were atrocious. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Purdue 70, Wisconsin 51: Execution on offense and effort on the glass were atrocious in the first half," 24 Jan. 2020 As many of you are likely anxious for 2020 to roll around — and to see if Colorado can rebound from its atrocious, 91-loss performance in 2019 — here’s an update on what some Rockies players have been doing with their respective offseasons. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Rockies 2019 holiday letter: Nolan Arenado gets married plus updates on the offseasons of other Colorado players," 26 Dec. 2019 The Giants defense is atrocious, and nine of their 10 previous opponents scored 27 points or more. Brad Biggs,, "Column: It’s impossible to feel differently about the flawed Bears after a narrow win against the Giants," 24 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for atrocious

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrocious was in 1604

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Statistics for atrocious

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atrocious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for atrocious


How to pronounce atrocious (audio)

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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