ug·​ly | \ ˈə-glē How to pronounce ugly (audio) \
uglier; ugliest

Definition of ugly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : offensive to the sight : hideous
b : offensive or unpleasant to any sense
2 : morally offensive or objectionable corruption—the ugliest stain of all
3a : likely to cause inconvenience or discomfort the ugly truth
b : surly, quarrelsome an ugly disposition



Definition of ugly (Entry 2 of 2)

: in an ugly manner was acting ugly

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Other Words from ugly


uglily \ ˈə-​glə-​lē How to pronounce uglily (audio) \ adverb

Examples of ugly in a Sentence


an ugly shade of green They avoided what could have been an ugly situation. He has an ugly disposition.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The bashing was seen by many as regressive and reminiscent of ugly wartime prejudices. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "How Lee Iacocca, famous for bashing the Japanese, is being remembered in Japan," 3 July 2019 The sheer number of sheriffs who have fought to keep their jail food funds secret suggests an ugly answer to that question., "How many Alabama sheriffs are crooked? DOJ needs to give us an answer," 26 June 2019 Prepare to ugly cry: Sandy Zimmerman is the first mom and the oldest woman to ever complete the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course. Megan Stein, Country Living, "American Ninja Warrior’s Sandy Zimmerman Is the First Mom Ever to Complete the Course," 25 June 2019 When an acronym for instant replay is overshadowing the World Cup, the beautiful game can get ugly, fast. Sean Gregory, Time, "What Is VAR? Soccer's Video Review Is Making a Mess of the Women's World Cup," 24 June 2019 The Communist Party’s use of violence to end those peaceful demonstrations left hundreds dead and remains one of the ugliest events in the history of the People’s Republic. Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books, "China’s ‘Black Week-end’," 17 June 2019 Scapegoating religious communities evokes ugly histories of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Shobana Shankar, Quartz Africa, "What the United States could learn from Nigeria about taking on anti-vaxxers," 7 June 2019 But under the beautiful surface of the sea, says Bittau, the situation is ugly. Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, "This pregnant whale died with 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach," 2 Apr. 2019 So bad there were hecklers during the ceremony ... barely talked about the good but mostly about the bad and the ugly. Steve Annear,, "‘Way out of line’: Fitchburg school officials apologize to parents, graduating students for remarks made at ceremony," 14 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

As Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris jostle for business, this fight is turning ugly. The Economist, "Can the City survive Brexit?," 27 June 2019 With a chuckle, publicist Christy Gentry said the competition wasn’t just about being ugly. John Rogers, Twin Cities, "Scamp the Tramp wins World’s Ugliest Dog Contest," 24 June 2019 While the civil suit ended on civil terms – the two wig directors embraced for a photo in front of the judge's bench – things got ugly over the last year. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Wigs 4 Kids settles lawsuit with a simple tweak: It added 'Maggie' to its name," 16 Feb. 2018 San Antonio’s defense would ugly up the game and likely dictate the pace of that match-up. Ben Golliver,, "Stephen Curry Avoids Season-Ending Knee Injury, but His Health Will Define 2018 NBA Postseason," 24 Mar. 2018 If anything, these platforms are likely to mean the younger royals spend more time, not less, talking about how ugly the internet can be. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "How the Internet’s Obsession with the Royal Family Turned Toxic," 10 Feb. 2019 While countering Pawlenty was a unifying theme for the Democrats, their primary turned ugly in the closing days. Kyle Potter, The Seattle Times, "Minnesota GOP governor primary tests Pawlenty’s comeback bid," 13 Aug. 2018 And lets not forget that @stefanogabbana bullies young girls online calling them ugly. Colleen Kratofil,, "Ashley Graham, Naomi Campbell Criticized for Walking Dolce & Gabbana Show After Selena Gomez Diss," 9 July 2018 And people were saying ugly and often untruthful things. Hope Reese, Vox, "A historian on our broken election system: “it’s run by people with stake in the outcome”," 21 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ugly.' 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 ugly


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ugly


Middle English, from Old Norse uggligr, from uggr fear; akin to Old Norse ugga to fear

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Statistics for ugly

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ugly

The first known use of ugly was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for ugly



English Language Learners Definition of ugly

: unpleasant to look at : not pretty or attractive
: unpleasant to hear
: offensive or disgusting


ug·​ly | \ ˈə-glē How to pronounce ugly (audio) \
uglier; ugliest

Kids Definition of ugly

1 : unpleasant to look at : not attractive He was an ugly dog, but already, I loved him with all my heart.— Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie
2 : offensive entry 1 sense 1 ugly habits
3 : likely to cause bother or discomfort : troublesome an ugly situation
4 : showing a mean or quarrelsome disposition an ugly temper

Other Words from ugly

ugliness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on ugly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ugly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ugly

Spanish Central: Translation of ugly

Nglish: Translation of ugly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ugly for Arabic Speakers

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