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

In Einstein’s day many scientists similarly saw themselves as engaged in an international, humanist enterprise that transcended borders and rose above the ugly banalities of politics. The Economist, "How Einstein and Eddington stood against jingoism," 7 June 2019 These fans relate to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Jill Gutowitz, Glamour, "How The Bold Type Gave Us the Realest Female Friendships on TV Since...Ever?," 9 Apr. 2019 The Pacer All-Star guard shot a miserable 5-of-20 for a very ugly 17 points. Terry Pluto,, "Cleveland Cavaliers show heart in comeback victory -- Terry Pluto (photos)," 23 Apr. 2018 The stigma around medication is an ugly branch of the stigma around mental illness in general. Sarah Klein,, "Why This Ballerina With Panic Disorder and Depression Refuses to Apologize for Her Mental Illness," 22 May 2018 Given fashion's ongoing love affair with the ugly shoe trend, the timing of Valentino's collaboration with Birkenstock is perfect. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Valentino Birkenstocks Are Now Available to Shop for $495," 27 Feb. 2019 Despite several studies that confirm Black fathers are typically very involved in the lives of their children, an ugly string of representation of Black fatherhood permeates even the best and most honest images of Black fatherhood in existence. Joelle Monique, Teen Vogue, ""If Beale Street Could Talk" Highlights the Power of Love in a World Designed for Black People to Fail," 9 Jan. 2019 This win was undoubtedly ugly, with yards hard to come by and points even more scarce. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "What the national media are saying about the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings on #MNF," 11 Dec. 2018 The season-long slash line still looks ugly, but Grichuk is hitting .366/.422/.805 in 45 plate appearances during his hot streak. Michael Beller,, "The Table Setter: Marcell Ozuna Is On Fire," 18 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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 Of course, a choppy, fun-to-trade market could easily turn ugly if the economy suddenly slows or a trade war erupts with China, to name just two risks. Landon Thomas Jr., New York Times, "Stock Markets Are Scary. Suddenly, It’s a Good Time to be a Trader.," 8 Mar. 2018 Connie Britton is playing Debra Newell, the successful interior designer who met John Meehan on the Internet and began a relationship with him that turned ugly. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Everything We Know About Bravo's TV Adaptation of Dirty John," 15 Oct. 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

13 Jun 2019

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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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