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 It’s because their infotainment systems are atrocious. Maren Estrada, BGR, 25 June 2021 Lindor was atrocious the first two months of the season, entering Memorial Day weekend with a slash line of .185/.290/.268. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, 3 June 2021 Their three-point shooting in particular has been atrocious. Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2021 Cleveland had one of the best front fours in the NFL, but their linebacking corps wasn’t physical and the secondary was atrocious. Mike Preston,, 15 May 2021 And, while her upbeat songs had a slight whimsy to them, her ballads were atrocious. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 13 May 2021 Many have placed the blame for America’s disastrous pandemic response on the atrocious leadership or lack thereof, of former President Donald Trump. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 20 May 2021 Some smell awful, like the atrocious Bradford pear. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 17 May 2021 Special teams: The Wild's power play was atrocious for the first three months of the season, ranking last in the league at 7.5% in mid-March. Star Tribune, 15 May 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near atrocious






à trois


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Statistics for atrocious

Last Updated

30 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Atrocious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on atrocious

Nglish: Translation of atrocious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of atrocious for Arabic Speakers


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