ter·​ri·​ble ˈter-ə-bəl How to pronounce terrible (audio)
: extremely bad: such as
: notably unattractive or objectionable
terrible behavior
: of very poor quality
a terrible movie
: strongly repulsive : obnoxious
a terrible smell
: difficult
in a terrible bind
: formidable in nature : awesome
a terrible responsibility
: exciting extreme alarm or intense fear : terrifying
: extreme, great
a terrible disappointment
terribleness noun

Example Sentences

Traffic was held up by a terrible accident. I have a terrible cold. The service at that restaurant is terrible.
Recent Examples on the Web The idea that there are still children out there laboring in the United States in these really exploitative situations is terrible. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 2 Mar. 2023 Dubon was terrible offensively last season (a .565 OPS over 265 plate appearances) and Houston believes the extra strength will improve that. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Feb. 2023 However, inflation readings have been terrible, and last year’s broad market losses are emblematic of a substantially lower appetite for risk-taking. George Schultze, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2023 Beauty editor Margaux Anbouba is obsessed with predicting the trends and bringing them straight to you—as she’s tried them out on her face and confirmed aren’t terrible, of course. Margaux Anbouba, ELLE, 22 Feb. 2023 Alec Baldwin's attorney said the charges represented a terrible miscarriage of justice. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2023 For You page is bad because its execution is terrible. Scott Nover, Quartz, 20 Jan. 2023 Tanner, a devoted Democrat, thought that was terrible. Fox News, 17 Jan. 2023 Though the weather wasn’t terrible for most of the game, the ball was wet at the start. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin terribilis, from terrēre to frighten — more at terror

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2c

Time Traveler
The first known use of terrible was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near terrible

Cite this Entry

“Terrible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrible. Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ter·​ri·​ble ˈter-ə-bəl How to pronounce terrible (audio)
: causing terror or awe : fearful, dreadful
a terrible disaster
: very great in degree
made a terrible mess of things
a terrible cold
: very bad in quality
terrible music
terribly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on terrible

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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