ferocious

adjective

fe·​ro·​cious fə-ˈrō-shəs How to pronounce ferocious (audio)
1
: exhibiting or given to extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality
a ferocious predator
the ferocious butchery of women and children
2
: 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

Example Sentences

A ferocious wind swept the beach. The competition among the students was ferocious.
Recent Examples on the Web Our ability to develop speech elevated our ancestors past faster, stronger and more ferocious beasts - turning creativity into a powerful tool for shaping the world around us. Chris Westfall, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2023 At least 17 people have died in wave of ferocious storms that have rolled across the state in the last two weeks. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2023 Other airlines recovered from ferocious winter storms that hit large swaths of the country over the weekend, but not Southwest, which scrubbed 2,500 flights Wednesday and 2,300 more on Thursday. David Koenig And Heather Hollingsworth, Chron, 28 Dec. 2022 Other airlines recovered from ferocious winter storms that hit large swaths of the country over the weekend, but not Southwest. David Koenig, BostonGlobe.com, 28 Dec. 2022 Other airlines recovered from ferocious winter storms that hit large swaths of the country over the weekend, but not Southwest, which scrubbed 2,500 flights Wednesday and 2,300 more on Thursday. David Koenig, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Dec. 2022 This storm, however, was more ferocious than the blizzard of 1977, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 27 Dec. 2022 This newcomer brings ferocious, ceiling-scraping vocals and melds them with a roaring chorus and scorching guitar work on par with anything that came out of the hard-driving 2000s rock and country scenes. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 13 Jan. 2023 Seven Ways to Scream Your Name, combines the start-stop fury of Thursday with occasional bursts of Britpop and ferocious metal breakdowns (which led to an opening spot on Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death World Tour). Spin Staff, SPIN, 31 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ferocious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

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 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

ferocious

adjective
fe·​ro·​cious fə-ˈrō-shəs How to pronounce ferocious (audio)
1
2
: very great : extreme
ferocious heat
ferociously adverb
ferociousness noun
ferocity
fə-ˈräs-ət-ē
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ferocious

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