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

His father grew up in Guatemala, where the government supported similar atrocities. Joe Garofoli,, "Even immigrants in US legally deal with fear and ‘chaos’ as ICE raids loom," 11 July 2019 The new episodes focus on the United States’ internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and uses that atrocity to tell another horror story of its own. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "New trailers: Knives Out, Jumanji: The Next Level, and more," 6 July 2019 Religious tradition, for instance, can do all three — its piety cultivates a sense of duty toward the sacred and also drives people to commit acts of atrocity. Sahil Handa, National Review, "Seeking a Way Out of Our Modern Malaise," 4 June 2019 By the time the truth of an atrocity could be established, news headlines had moved on. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "How Assad Made Truth a Casualty of War," 7 Sep. 2018 Although Nassar is already in prison, Jacob Moore hopes that by coming out and sharing his experience, atrocities like this will never happen again. Brandon Patterson, Detroit Free Press, "1st male Nassar victim Jacob Moore: 'I hope he rots in hell'," 6 Mar. 2018 Get our daily newsletter Residents of the capital likened the carnage to atrocities committed by government forces and its militias during Sudan’s long civil wars. The Economist, "Pro-democracy protesters are slaughtered in Khartoum," 6 June 2019 Some think further atrocities by the RSF could spark fighting with the army. The Economist, "A struggle for power in Sudan could lead to civil war," 14 June 2019 And given that many of the migrants crossing illegally are women and children, many are vulnerable to atrocities and exploitation on their perilous expedition north. Fox News, "Footage of porous U.S.-Mexico border purportedly shows armed coyote smuggling dozens with ease," 13 June 2019

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

17 Jul 2019

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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 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).


characterized by aphorism

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