atro·​cious ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio)
: extremely wicked, brutal, or cruel : barbaric
prisoners subjected to atrocious treatment
: appalling, horrifying
the atrocious weapons of modern war
an atrocious accident
: utterly revolting : abominable
atrocious working conditions
atrocious weather
: of very poor quality
atrocious handwriting
atrociously adverb
atrociousness noun

Keep scrolling for more

Example Sentences

… 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
Recent Examples on the Web Murray also should help improve an atrocious defense that was perhaps the most significant factor in the team failing to live up to expectations. Paul Newberry, ajc, 24 Sep. 2022 Bill O’Brien’s play selection at times in the game was atrocious. Mark Heim |, al, 11 Sep. 2022 His passing against Kentucky was atrocious, imprecise and lacked touch. Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel, 11 Sep. 2022 The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better end to the half after an otherwise atrocious 20 or so minutes of basketball. Nicole Yang,, 21 May 2022 Perhaps someone with an atrocious opinion in one case may have something valuable to share in another. Michael Polk, Rolling Stone, 11 May 2022 Wisely, instead of some atrocious add-on backup camera from Amazon, the seller replaced the driver's-side door strut. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, 19 Apr. 2022 Miami really turned on the heat right in its very first game of this postseason, shooting 52.4 percent from the field, while holding Atlanta to an atrocious 38.7 percent shooting. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 18 Apr. 2022 The gap between the annual income of Black families versus non-Black families is atrocious. Scarlett Newman, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 June 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Latin atroc-, atrox gloomy, atrocious, from atr-, ater black + -oc-, -ox (akin to Greek ōps eye) — more at eye

First Known Use

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of atrocious was in 1604

Dictionary Entries Near atrocious

Cite this Entry

“Atrocious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Kids Definition



atro·​cious ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio)
: extremely brutal, cruel, or wicked
an atrocious crime
: very bad
atrocious weather
atrocious manners

Legal Definition



atro·​cious ə-ˈtrō-shəs How to pronounce atrocious (audio)
: characterized by extreme cruelty or viciousness
atrocious assault and battery

More from Merriam-Webster on atrocious

Last Updated: 4 Oct 2022

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.