atroc·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈträ-sə-tē How to pronounce atrocity (audio) \
plural atrocities

Definition of atrocity

1 : a shockingly bad or atrocious act, object, or situation the atrocities of war
2 : the quality or state of being atrocious … the paralysing atrocity of the thought which occupied her.— Joseph Conrad

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Examples of atrocity in a Sentence

Atrocities were committed by forces on both sides of the conflict. Who could be capable of such atrocity?

Recent Examples on the Web

Under the accord, most rebels who fully confess their crimes will be spared any jail time, a sore point for many Colombians who still vividly remember the atrocities of war. Manuel Rueda, Fox News, "Incoming Colombia president faces long list of challenges," 7 Aug. 2018 Some lawyers said the case set aside the traditional requirement that prosecutors had to prove that workers in camps had committed individual criminal acts before they could be held personally responsible for atrocities. Karin Matussek,, "Oskar Groening, Convicted ‘Accountant of Auschwitz,’ Dies at 96," 12 Mar. 2018 Our objective for every peacekeeping mission is to save lives; prevent mass atrocities; set the stage for stability and sustainable peace; leave when that task is done; and, from start to finish, be cost-effective. António Guterres, Time, "Join U.N. Peacekeepers on the Ground in Congo in This Virtual Reality Experience," 29 May 2018 The fourth is at Beir Ahmed, where the March atrocities occurred. Maggie Michael, Fox News, "Yemeni prisoners say Emirati officers sexually torture them," 21 June 2018 Putting this number into context, Stone compares these numbers to another of the 20th century's atrocities: the Rwandan genocide of 1994. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Precisely How Nazi Infrastructure Enabled the Worst of the Holocaust," 2 Jan. 2019 In this novel, to bear witness actively and with compassion can be a redemptive act, but to bear witness passively, as a bystander, is to become complicit in an atrocity. Constance Grady, Vox, "Melmoth, from the author of The Essex Serpent, is a lurid novel of sin and redemption," 22 Oct. 2018 For any part of that scenery to be ruined, to be destroyed, is an atrocity. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Four: The Gospel of Bundy," 18 May 2018 But as new harrowing stories come to light detailing the atrocities being carried out in Yemen, the conflict — and the US’s complicity in the violence — may become harder to ignore. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Saudi Arabia is reportedly outsourcing its war in Yemen to child soldiers," 30 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atrocity.' 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 atrocity

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for atrocity

see atrocious

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Dictionary Entries near atrocity





à trois



Statistics for atrocity

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for atrocity

The first known use of atrocity was in 1534

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English Language Learners Definition of atrocity

: a very cruel or terrible act or action


atroc·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈträ-sə-tē How to pronounce atrocity (audio) \
plural atrocities

Kids Definition of atrocity

: an extremely cruel or terrible act, object, or situation the atrocities of war

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More from Merriam-Webster on atrocity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with atrocity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for atrocity

Spanish Central: Translation of atrocity

Nglish: Translation of atrocity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of atrocity for Arabic Speakers

Comments on atrocity

What made you want to look up atrocity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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