atroc·​i·​ty | \ə-ˈträ-sə-tē \
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

Even though our capacity to slaughter each other has been growing — and the 20th century was rife with such atrocities — the overall trajectory has been that things keep getting better. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Human history, in one chart," 8 Nov. 2018 That is why many activists in Mexico believe such atrocities continue to be committed. Andalusia Knoll, Teen Vogue, "What to Know About the 1968 Tlatelolco Plaza Student Massacre," 2 Oct. 2018 This personal connection motivated me to report passionately on breast cancer, much the way a war correspondent covers atrocities abroad. Lambeth Hochwald, Glamour, "I Got a Mastectomy…Twice," 27 Sep. 2018 If Vladimir Putin’s henchmen or Saudi princes had put a bounty on Mr. John’s head for revealing secrets about atrocities and reporting the news, Western media would be enthralled. WSJ, "Threatened Nigerian Priest Would Get More Notice as a Journalist," 1 Nov. 2018 Both sides had committed atrocities; there was no monopoly on suffering. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 To mark the atrocity's anniversary, a series of remembrance events took place across the city culminating in a mass sing-along. Richard Smirke, Billboard, "Manchester Unites in Song to Remember Victims of Ariana Grande Arena Bombing," 22 May 2018 The country was among the first to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, an agreement motivated in large part by the collective failure, on the part of the Allied powers, to provide shelter from Nazi atrocities. Brian Goldstone, The New Republic, "Essential reporting, interpretation, and opinion on politics and culture. Don't miss our latest.," 26 June 2018 The report is the latest snapshot of the widespread atrocities committed in the world's youngest nation over its five-year civil war. Cara Anna, Fox News, "Gang-rapes, lynchings: UN tallies latest South Sudan abuses," 10 July 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

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for atrocity

The first known use of atrocity was in 1534

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More Definitions for atrocity



English Language Learners Definition of atrocity

: a very cruel or terrible act or action


atroc·​i·​ty | \ə-ˈträ-sə-tē \
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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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