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

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Other Words from terrible

terribleness noun
terribly \ ˈter-​ə-​blē How to pronounce terribly (audio) , 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 Unfortunately, this terrible event in Tehran likely won't be the the last time a civilian airline is caught between to rival militaries. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.S. Officials Believe Iran Shot Down Civilian Airliner by Mistake," 9 Jan. 2020 What are best practices in terms of helping someone recover from a terrible situation? Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Power Publicists Jennifer Allen and Melissa Kates on Lessons Learned and How to Spin a Scandal in 2020," 9 Jan. 2020 The Jets’ run defense isn’t terrible, so starting Conner is no sure thing. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 16: Last-minute moves," 22 Dec. 2019 Today was absolutely terrible, for me the entire day. Fox News, "NFL player C.J. Beathard's brother among pair fatally stabbed outside Nashville bar, authorities say," 22 Dec. 2019 Howard has been terrible, and the Penguins will pepper him. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings odds, picks and best bets," 7 Dec. 2019 Air pollution does indeed do terrible things to schoolchildren. S.d., The Economist, "How air pollution can ruin schoolchildren’s lives," 2 Nov. 2019 Beal is slightly better at 112.9 but has a negative net rating (minus-6.5) because the Wizards are terrible defensively. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: The All-Star case for Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon," 14 Dec. 2019 The Blackhawks goaltender has been terrible in them. Jimmy Greenfield, chicagotribune.com, "Marc Denis was one of the NHL’s greatest shootout goalies. Could what worked for him work for the Blackhawks’ Robin Lehner?," 10 Dec. 2019

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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Statistics for terrible

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terrible.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrible. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for terrible


How to pronounce terrible (audio)

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

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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).


experienced by way of someone else

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