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 Edge: Broncos Ryan O’Halloran, beat writer Broncos 34, Lions 24 Detroit is atrocious against the pass and the game plan will reflect that as Lock is allowed to sling it around (three TDs, 313 yards). Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against the Lions and predictions," 20 Dec. 2019 The Heat have been lights out at home with an 11-1 overall record and the Knicks are atrocious on the road with a 3-11 record. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "New York Knicks at Miami Heat odds, picks and best bets," 20 Dec. 2019 This is a matchup of teams that are atrocious in the turnover ratio, with the Dolphins at minus-14 and Giants at minus-13. Keven Lerner,, "Staff predictions: Miami Dolphins (3-10) at New York Giants (2-11)," 12 Dec. 2019 Regifting can get messy, but now there is an easy out for those looking to get rid of ugly holiday sweaters that are too atrocious to even wear as a joke. Kelli Bender,, "Now You Can Turn that Ugly Holiday Sweater You Want to Regift Into a Cute Toy for Your Pet," 21 Nov. 2019 The Monarchs are absolutely atrocious in the passing game – their leading receiver is a running back and the only one to eclipse the century mark this season – so there should be a focus on running the ball. Evan Dudley, al, "Blazer Buzz: UAB vs. Old Dominion TV info, key matchups," 19 Oct. 2019 Harder, because with time comes perspective, and 18 years later, the shock and enormity of those despicable acts continue to stand as one of the most atrocious deeds humans have ever perpetrated against one another. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Why This is the Hardest 9/11 Anniversary of Them All," 11 Sep. 2019 To be fair to Brissett, the running game was atrocious as well. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Colts do everything wrong in falling from playoff race," 17 Dec. 2019 The first half was atrocious, allowing the Rams to score on touchdown drives of 75, 85 and 72 yards in the first two quarters. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks produce embarrassing performance against the Los Angeles Rams: 10 studs and duds," 9 Dec. 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

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atrocious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 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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