atroc·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈträ-sə-tē How to pronounce atrocity (audio) \
plural atrocities

Definition of atrocity

1 : a shockingly bad or atrocious act, object, or situation the atrocities of war
2 : the quality or state of being atrocious … the paralysing atrocity of the thought which occupied her.— Joseph Conrad

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Examples of atrocity in a Sentence

Atrocities were committed by forces on both sides of the conflict. Who could be capable of such atrocity?
Recent Examples on the Web Others, particularly in academia, say reparations for those affected by the massacre and their descendants are long overdue after the government largely ignored the atrocity, not even issuing a formal apology until earlier this year. Samara Lynn, ABC News, 12 Sep. 2021 How odd, under those circumstances, to suggest that the problem is the prescription for bringing the suit rather than the atrocity that prompts the suit. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 4 Sep. 2021 There was enough atrocity on both sides to make your head spin. Edmund H. Mahony,, 22 Sep. 2021 Their savagery was demonstrated by the 2014 Peshawar school massacre that saw 141 people killed, 132 of them children, in an atrocity that the Afghan Taliban condemned. Time, 30 Aug. 2021 Perhaps most famously, months before the Sept. 11th attacks and the U.S. invasion, the world was horrified by a Taliban atrocity -- blowing up the Buddha statues of Bamiyan, a province in central Afghanistan. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, 22 Aug. 2021 As a testament to the city’s resilience and defiant performance of beauty in the face of atrocity, the shows did ultimately go on. Shelby Ying Hyde, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 Sep. 2021 How can a place that has inspired so much positivity among one group of people stand as a symbol of atrocity to another? Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 Sep. 2021 My urgency here today, though, is to address what allowed an atrocity of this scale to occur. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 5 Aug. 2021

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

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for atrocity

see atrocious

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Time Traveler for atrocity

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrocity was in 1534

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Dictionary Entries Near atrocity



à trois

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Statistics for atrocity

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Atrocity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for atrocity



English Language Learners Definition of atrocity

: a very cruel or terrible act or action


atroc·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈträ-sə-tē How to pronounce atrocity (audio) \
plural atrocities

Kids Definition of atrocity

: an extremely cruel or terrible act, object, or situation the atrocities of war

More from Merriam-Webster on atrocity

Nglish: Translation of atrocity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of atrocity for Arabic Speakers


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