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

Instead the West should try to spare Syria’s suffering by offering strictly humanitarian assistance and threatening retribution for heinous acts, such as the use of chemical weapons. The Economist, "Syria will poison the region for years to come," 5 Sep. 2019 In other recent mass shootings officials also have declined to name the shooter so as not to give their heinous acts undue attention. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "‘We are one’: Community vows to heal as police investigate motive for West Texas shootings," 2 Sep. 2019 Last week on the heels of two more dramatic mass murders, Gardner once again offered nothing more than meaningless condolences to those impacted by these heinous crimes. Doug Friednash, The Denver Post, "Friednash: Run for Senate, Hick," 16 Aug. 2019 One of the questions asked at the end of the presser was asked by a journalist who said that this is becoming all too common: a white man with a manifesto who then commits these heinous acts of violence. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Representative Veronica Escobar Speaks out About Gun Violence and El Paso," 5 Aug. 2019 The defendant committed heinous crimes against Jane Doe that will forever impact her. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "California man gets 94 years to life in Antioch child molest case," 7 Aug. 2019 The president’s fans should remember that their main complaint has been that Donald Trump and his campaign were treated as suspects in heinous, traitorous crimes despite the absence of credible incriminating evidence. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The DOJ Will Not Prosecute James Comey over Trump Memos," 3 Aug. 2019 Justice must be done for the victims of these heinous crimes and their families. Washington Post, "Official: Arizona to resume executions after 5-year hiatus," 26 July 2019 Supporters of capital punishment, who argue that it should be applied for heinous crimes, have said that delays in carrying out death sentences are unfair to the relatives of victims. Mark Berman, BostonGlobe.com, "Justice Department plans to restart capital punishment after long hiatus," 25 July 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near heinous






heir apparency

heir apparent

Statistics for heinous

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for heinous

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

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More Definitions for heinous



English Language Learners Definition of heinous

: very bad or evil : deserving of hate or contempt


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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More from Merriam-Webster on heinous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heinous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heinous

Spanish Central: Translation of heinous

Nglish: Translation of heinous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heinous for Arabic Speakers

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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