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

Other Words from ugly


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

Examples of ugly in a Sentence

Adjective an ugly shade of green They avoided what could have been an ugly situation. He has an ugly disposition.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The best part: Supportive shoes don’t have to be ugly. Corinne Sullivan, Woman's Day, 5 May 2022 Koepp: There was an internet culture that was just starting to flex its ability to be ugly. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 28 Apr. 2022 Some observers say the brutalist design — minimalist construction showcasing building materials and structural elements rather than decorative designs — is ugly. Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant, 22 Apr. 2022 White House aides were out in force on Monday warning that Tuesday’s inflation report would be ugly and blaming it on Vladimir Putin. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 12 Apr. 2022 The opening statements signaled that this trial, which could last up to six weeks, will be ugly, with both sides accusing the other of lying. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2022 The outcome was ugly, but these type of games — where Brett Phillips comes off the mound to make a running and sliding catch is the only highlight — are going to happen, even to a team that opened the season with three crisp wins in a row. Marc Topkin,, 12 Apr. 2022 But in 2017 a colleague dropped a shell on Wood’s desk marked with squiggly canals and dark, ugly spots—signs of a shell-boring oyster pest called Polydora. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 28 Apr. 2022 However, economists say Thursday's ugly — and confusing — GDP report is not a reason for panic, nor a harbinger of an immediate recession. Matt Egan, CNN, 28 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The message was obvious: Do that against Memphis and things could get ugly fast. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Apr. 2022 At a time when cultural battles over everything from monuments to school curricula often turn ugly, Baxter provides a hopeful model for an honest reckoning with history. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Apr. 2022 Breer isn't the only media member to think that the Cardinals' situation with Murray could turn really ugly. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 At the very least, the Longhorns’ defense, experience and ability to ugly-up any game should be enough to advance in the NCAA Tournament this year, which hasn’t happened since 2014. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Mar. 2022 Things got ugly quickly between Jennie Nguyen and Mary Cosby during the season finale of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Nicholas Rice,, 20 Feb. 2022 The Supreme Court confirmation process could turn ugly. Adam Wollner, CNN, 4 Feb. 2022 The backlash on social media turned ugly, with hundreds of commenters hurling racist insults at cultural historian Anthony T. Browder of IKG, one of the conference's main presenters. Abbas Al Lawati, Nadeen Ebrahim And Eoin Mcsweeney, CNN, 16 Feb. 2022 Both teams played ugly in the first half, each shooting below 40% with 11 turnovers. Nick Suss, USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About ugly

Time Traveler for ugly

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near ugly



Ugly American

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ugly

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ugly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ugly


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, The Tale of Despereaux
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

More from Merriam-Webster on ugly

Nglish: Translation of ugly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ugly for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!