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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web During the primary season, Biden’s fundraising was atrocious and the enthusiasm level of his crowds ranged from tepid to somnolent. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Sorry, AOC — Democrats Don’t Want Democratic Socialism," 16 Apr. 2020 How will Coach Fassel help the Cowboys special teams, which were atrocious last season? Dallas News, "Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein on battling with Kai Forbath: ‘Ideally, I win’," 12 Apr. 2020 This crime was atrocious and will not be tolerated in Rosenberg. Kristi Nix, Houston Chronicle, "Alleged armed robbery in Rosenberg’s Travis Park leads to arrest of three Fort Bend County teens," 28 Feb. 2020 Raising that baseline level of performance should result in big changes from today’s games, which need to target downright ancient consoles built around AMD’s atrocious Jaguar cores and dirt-slow spinning hard drives. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Sony PlayStation 5 taps AMD's radical SmartShift tech to push its GPU to ludicrous speeds," 18 Mar. 2020 For some, the idea of having to share common spaces with strangers might sound like a nightmare, bringing back memories of atrocious college roomies. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "This California Startup Rents Out Affordable Dorm-Like Rooms to Adults," 27 Feb. 2020 Their atrocious play over the first half was enough to make anyone believe their minds were elsewhere. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pacers 118, Bucks 111: Heading into the break after some of the worst basketball of the season," 12 Feb. 2020 Here are five questions that will determine whether Golden State can follow the 1996-97 Spurs’ model and parlay one atrocious season into immediate relevance: How will Wiggins fit? Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors have $441 million tied up in 4 players. Where do they go from here?," 11 Feb. 2020 Lows: Heavy despite prevalent aluminum, atrocious ride, chintzy interior. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, "Diesel Half-Ton Tug of War: Chevy vs. Ford vs. Ram," 17 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about atrocious

Time Traveler for atrocious

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrocious was in 1604

See more words from the same year

Statistics for atrocious

Last Updated

22 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atrocious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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