heinous

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

Definition of heinous

: hatefully or shockingly evil : abominable

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web There is no evidence, and no argument has been made, that Nathaniel Woods tried to stop the gunman from committing these heinous crimes. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, "Nathaniel Woods executed in Alabama after Supreme Court denies stay," 5 Mar. 2020 Countless others, both high-profile and unknown, are facing investigations and charges for their heinous crimes. Alyssa Milano, refinery29.com, "Alyssa Milano: The Next Phase of the #MeToo Movement? Justice," 26 Feb. 2020 That may not be as great a crime as overt harassment, but its insidiousness is still heinous. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Bombshell Is a Story of Bravery That Might Leave You Cold," 13 Dec. 2019 The governor said his order did not extend to those who committed violent felonies because some offenses, such as rape and murder, were too heinous to forgive. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Kentucky Gives Voting Rights to Some 140,000 Former Felons," 12 Dec. 2019 Even though their crime is less heinous than torturing him in a prison cell, the fact that Westerners were collaborating with Russian torturers means that in a certain way, in my analysis of morality, these people actually knew better. Kristin Broughton, WSJ, "Financier Bill Browder Plays the Long Game to Expose Russian Money-Laundering," 27 June 2019 Easter worshippers’ matters b[e]c[ause] Easter is the holiest day of the year for Christians, & to be targeted on Easter highlights how heinous the attack was - just as saying yesterday’s #SanDiego shooting was on Passover. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "AOC Called Out Kellyanne Conway Over the Trump Administration's "Incompetent" Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico," 29 Apr. 2019 Terrorists or other criminal organizations will do something that's heinous, in a way that is blocked from lawful law enforcement view. Craig Timberg And Tony Romm, chicagotribune.com, "Apple is making it harder for police to collect evidence from iPhones of suspected criminals," 14 June 2018 That's when a laid-back, drugged-out Cliff gets it together enough – and Pitt comes alive in knockout fashion – to alter heinous history. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Hallelujah! Brad Pitt wins his first acting Oscar, and the world rejoices," 10 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about heinous

Time Traveler for heinous

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about heinous

Statistics for heinous

Last Updated

13 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heinous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heinous. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for heinous

heinous

adjective
How to pronounce heinous (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on heinous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heinous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heinous

Spanish Central: Translation of heinous

Nglish: Translation of heinous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heinous for Arabic Speakers

Comments on heinous

What made you want to look up heinous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!