heinous

adjective
hei·​nous | \ ˈhā-nəs How to pronounce heinous (audio) \

Definition of heinous

: hatefully or shockingly evil : abominable

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Other Words from heinous

heinously adverb
heinousness noun

Did You Know?

Humans have contrasted love with hate and good with evil for eons, putting love and good on one side and hate and evil on the other. The etymology of heinous reflects the association of hate with that which is evil or horrible. During the 14th century, English borrowed "heinous" from the Middle French haine, meaning "hate." Over time English speakers came to use the word to reflect the sense of horror evoked by intense hatred.

Examples of heinous in a Sentence

While admittedly the crimes rappers commit have often been more heinous than those committed by other entertainers, rappers seem to face more opprobrium. Though hip hop has become mainstream, much of mass media still has antiquated ideas of rap music and rappers. Vibe, May 2001 The verdict … also defined rape for the first time as a crime against humanity, one of the most heinous crimes. The tribunal has previously tried cases involving rape, but defined the rape as torture. — Marlise Simons, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2001 It's hard enough to figure out what a defendant was thinking when he committed the heinous and bizarre act that has made him a candidate for the insanity defense. And state of mind is what the insanity defense is all about. — Laura Mansnerus, New York Times Book Review, 26 Oct. 1997 These murders were especially heinous. people accused of committing heinous crimes
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Recent Examples on the Web The defining moment to me was the manner in which the legendary Jim Nantz set the tone with a powerful opening monologue in the aftermath of the heinous George Floyd killing, as protests raged across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: CBS has responsibility to set a progressive tone with its Super Bowl 55 coverage," 4 Feb. 2021 But then—most pronounced in a scene when the Stork tries to use him as a pawn in a heinous scheme—his face betrays a pure and melting guilelessness that can cut right through you. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The White Tiger Is a Complex Crime Drama with a Dazzling Performance at Its Center," 22 Jan. 2021 Even worse, many of them had been involved in the Holocaust and other heinous crimes against humanity. Sylvia Taschka, The Conversation, "How can America heal from the Trump era? Lessons from Germany’s transformation into a prosperous democracy after Nazi rule," 12 Jan. 2021 Environmental criminals, authoritarian regimes, tax evaders and financial criminals, drug traffickers, wildlife poachers, and gun runners—all those responsible for the most heinous crimes have turned to anonymous shell companies. Morris Pearl, Fortune, "Congress just passed the most important anti-corruption reform in decades, but hardly anyone knows about it," 26 Dec. 2020 If only the scandals that Nanau uncovers, in his native Romania, were too heinous to be believed. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Movies That Mattered in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 The women's memories of the good times is spellbinding – and downright chilling – in the context of Bundy's heinous acts. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "More than just 'Tiger King': The 10 best true-crime docs of 2020 that share the crown," 12 Dec. 2020 Those who commit heinous crimes must be punished severely. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: COVID deaths, death penalty, Enbridge Line 3, automation, the glass ceiling," 7 Dec. 2020 Among the most heinous voter suppression tactics, people are now getting eerie Election Day robocalls telling them not to vote. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "No, You Shouldn’t Listen To Those Robocalls Telling You To Stay Home Instead Of Vote," 3 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heinous.' 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 heinous

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for heinous

Middle English, from Anglo-French hainus, heinous, from haine hate, from hair to hate, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German haz hate — more at hate

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Time Traveler for heinous

Time Traveler

The first known use of heinous was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heinous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heinous. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for heinous

heinous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of heinous

: very bad or evil : deserving of hate or contempt

heinous

adjective
hei·​nous | \ ˈhā-nəs How to pronounce heinous (audio) \

Legal Definition of heinous

: enormously and shockingly evil a heinous crime

Other Words from heinous

heinously adverb
heinousness noun

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Comments on heinous

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