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 Sally Dobbie, a life-long Dallas-area resident, petitioned the state’s historical society this month to place a historical marker at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture, noting Brooks’ life and the atrocity surrounding his death. Dallas News, "As Dallas removes Confederate monument, there’s a new effort to memorialize the city’s last known lynching victim," 23 June 2020 As protests have rocked America in recent weeks, the idea of reparations to atone for the atrocity of slavery, as well as to reduce the persistent gaps in income and wealth between people of different skin colours, has gained further prominence. The Economist, "Forty acres and a mule The economics of reparations," 20 June 2020 Both the Route 74 renaming and the destruction of the three Columbus statues are small dots on a map of atrocity that spans the country. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Now Do Lincoln," 11 June 2020 That need to stay engaged, to understand the reality of black Americans' lives when a new atrocity isn't making headlines, is part of what Martin says prompted her to organize the march. Nancy Kaffer, Detroit Free Press, "Black Lives Matter protest on Dequindre Cut draws hundreds, and Rashida Tlaib," 6 June 2020 Its hero is a fictional Jesuit priest modeled after two actual priests who had paid with their lives for condemning Nazi atrocities., "Rolf Hochhuth, who challenged a pope’s wartime silence," 21 May 2020 The event marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the most notorious symbol of Nazi Germany’s World War II atrocities. Ivan Levingston,, "World Leaders Gather in Jerusalem 75 Years After Holocaust," 8 May 2020 When the austere parade ended at Alamo Plaza, there were religious services and patriotic speeches, headlined by a Brooklyn pastor speaking on German atrocities. Paula Allen,, "World War I, flu pandemic knocked out San Antonio’s Fiesta for two years before its triumphant return in 1920," 2 May 2020 He was born in 1938, and his childhood overlapped with World War II, years remembered for Japan’s aggression and atrocities against its neighbors but also a period during which Japanese people suffered hunger, abuse and mass deaths. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi dies at 82," 11 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for atrocity

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The first known use of atrocity was in 1534

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Statistics for atrocity

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atrocity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for atrocity


How to pronounce atrocity (audio)

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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