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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Both terrible times—1776 to 1783, and about 1965 to about 1995—originated in geography. Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, 15 July 2024 That terrible day in Minnesota, Aug. 1, 2007, was referenced more than once last week as Maryland officials traveled to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to fully fund the rebuilding of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which fell less than four months ago. Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun, 15 July 2024 No doubt his most loyal supporters, and perhaps other voters as well, will find in this terrible episode the motivation to work even more in his behalf. Dan Balz, Washington Post, 14 July 2024 Doherty reprised the role of Brenda in the terrible 2008 Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot, and again in the campy 2019 BH90210 miniseries. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 14 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for terrible 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'terrible.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 21 Jul. 2024.

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
a terrible cold
: very bad in quality
terrible music
terribly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on terrible

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