fe·​ro·​cious fə-ˈrō-shəs How to pronounce ferocious (audio)
: exhibiting or given to extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality
a ferocious predator
the ferocious butchery of women and children
: extremely intense
ferocious heat
The competition among the students was ferocious.
ferociously adverb
ferociousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for ferocious

fierce, ferocious, barbarous, savage, cruel mean showing fury or malignity in looks or actions.

fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack.

fierce warriors

ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality.

a ferocious dog

barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people.

barbarous treatment of prisoners

savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion.

a savage criminal

cruel implies indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it.

the cruel jokes of schoolboys

Examples of ferocious in a Sentence

A ferocious wind swept the beach. The competition among the students was ferocious.
Recent Examples on the Web Returning director Chris Renaud crams in a new villain, a teenage protégé, several visits to Gru’s old boarding school, a heist (to steal a ferocious honey badger) and a hasty attempt to put the family into the witness protection program (imagine Gru trying to blend in with the country club crowd). Peter Debruge, Variety, 14 June 2024 There has been a steady stream of demonstrations in the city and across the nation since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a ferocious war in Gaza. Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News, 13 June 2024 Looking out over the Eromanga Sea 100 million years ago, not every ferocious predator would be found under the surface of the water. Irene Wright, Miami Herald, 12 June 2024 June 16 is the big date, with the war between Team Black and Team Green finally kicking into overdrive, and plenty of those ferocious winged beasts fueling the fight along. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for ferocious 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ferocious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin feroc-, ferox, literally, fierce looking, from ferus + -oc-, -ox (akin to Greek ōps eye) — more at eye

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ferocious was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near ferocious

Cite this Entry

“Ferocious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ferocious. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


fe·​ro·​cious fə-ˈrō-shəs How to pronounce ferocious (audio)
: very great : extreme
ferocious heat
ferociously adverb
ferociousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ferocious

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