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 Group G isn’t terrible overall, with Serbia, Cameroon and Switzerland all having talented rosters, but Brazil is the clear favorite to win the group overall. Ian Firstenberg, Chicago Tribune, 19 Nov. 2022 Yet, even with these terrible things all pointing to her only living son, Marianne cannot abandon him. al, 11 Nov. 2022 Indiana is terrible, in the midst of what is likely a nine-game season-ending losing streak. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 11 Nov. 2022 Medical care is also virtually nonexistent, food is terrible and prisoners are often mistreated by other prisoners and the administration, Alexandrova wrote. Ariana Garcia, Chron, 11 Nov. 2022 Militaries have historically been terrible at reporting their environmental impacts, let alone easing them. Christine Ro, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 Really terrible things happened and everything went from coke to heroine, and that was not a good thing. Clarissa Cruz, EW.com, 1 Nov. 2022 Lewis — who died Oct. 28 at his home in DeSoto County, Mississippi — did terrible things, repeatedly, across the decades. Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone, 31 Oct. 2022 The defense has been terrible at tackling for at least the last 10 years, yet Staley has done nothing to address this issue. Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2022 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 6 Dec. 2022.

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

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