ter·​ri·​ble | \ˈter-ə-bəl, ˈte-rə-\

Definition of terrible 

1 : extremely bad: such as

a : notably unattractive or objectionable terrible behavior

b : of very poor quality a terrible movie

c : strongly repulsive : obnoxious a terrible smell

2a : difficult in a terrible bind

b : formidable in nature : awesome a terrible responsibility

c : exciting extreme alarm or intense fear : terrifying

3 : extreme, great a terrible disappointment

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Other Words from terrible

terribleness noun
terribly \ˈter-​ə-​blē, ˈte-​rə-​ \ adverb

Examples of terrible in a Sentence

Traffic was held up by a terrible accident. I have a terrible cold. The service at that restaurant is terrible.
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Recent Examples on the Web

And the war came, a war so terrible that only eradicating the sin of slavery could possibly justify it. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Democrats, Don’t Succumb to Retribution," 9 Oct. 2018 Mendez wrote it in reaction to the terrible things that happen in stories about gay people. Andrea Thompson, Chicago Reader, "Arts / Books / Visual Art / Gender Issues / LGBTQ+ Nerds unite at Challengers for Women’s Comics Night," 9 July 2018 In fact, holding a World Cup in Russia today seemed like a terrible idea to many. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "Russia Relaxes, for a Moment, to Let Soccer Fans Rejoice," 2 July 2018 The people who had stayed in Afghanistan during the Taliban — the poor people who weren’t able to go to Peshawar — experienced a lot of terrible things, and they were psychologically affected. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 Again, signing Thomas outright is not a terrible idea. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "Buyer Beware: Five Pricey Free Agents to Avoid," 27 June 2018 Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm for a surprising number of scenes, mostly to smugly remind you what a terrible idea everything is. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Jurassic World Evolution," 19 June 2018 Let it be known that running on the field at a CFL game is a terrible idea, especially when the BC Lions’ Marcell Young is around. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "CFL player puts an end to streaker's time on the field with bone-crushing hit," 17 June 2018 Bath bombs Speaking of the tub, those bath bombs that are really great for Instagram are really terrible for the drain. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "8 Things You Should Never Wash Down The Sink," 17 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of terrible

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

History and Etymology for terrible

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

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Statistics for terrible

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrible

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

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More Definitions for terrible



English Language Learners Definition of terrible

: very shocking and upsetting

: very bad or unpleasant


ter·​ri·​ble | \ˈter-ə-bəl \

Kids Definition of terrible

1 : very great in degree a terrible fright a terrible mess

2 : very bad I got a terrible grade on the test.

3 : causing great fear a terrible monster

Other Words from terrible

terribly \-​blē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on terrible

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with terrible

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for terrible

Spanish Central: Translation of terrible

Nglish: Translation of terrible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrible for Arabic Speakers

Comments on terrible

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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