ter·​ri·​ble | \ ˈter-ə-bəl How to pronounce terrible (audio) , 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

Other Words from terrible

terribleness noun

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 The Bengals are terrible after a week off, losing their last five after the break. Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2021 Covid-19 has been terrible, the Academy, an independent body that advises the US federal government on matters of medicine and health, said in the first of the the reports. Maggie Fox, CNN, 17 Nov. 2021 Not terrible or fireable, but more or less stuck in neutral — kind of like the program itself. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2021 From the press box and on replay, that call was terrible. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Nov. 2021 The splat at the bottom wasn’t terrible; some investors found the company a lot more worth their money at $160 a share than $177. David Bloom, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 The epidemic of suffering and suicide among the veteran population is terrible, and experts say it’s about to get worse for some predictable reasons. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 12 Nov. 2021 Two terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad opening weekends, and sayonara. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2021 The critics are right: Most carbon offsets are terrible. Stephen Lezak, The New Republic, 9 Nov. 2021

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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Time Traveler for terrible

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terrible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrible. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce terrible (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on terrible

Nglish: Translation of terrible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrible for Arabic Speakers


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