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[uh-tros-i-tee] /əˈtrɒs ɪ ti/
noun, plural atrocities.
the quality or state of being atrocious.
an atrocious act, thing, or circumstance.
Origin of atrocity
1525-35; < Latin atrōcitās, equivalent to atrōci- (stem of atrōx) fierce + -tās -ty2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for atrocities
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Historical Examples
  • The atrocities of which they are guilty are a hundred times worse than I could have believed.

    In the Mahdi's Grasp George Manville Fenn
  • Its vagaries must be experienced and studied by any investigator of the atrocities of war.

  • Meanwhile the Christian Powers had been greatly alarmed by the loss of Cyprus and the atrocities above described.

  • It's for them that all these atrocities are invented—most of them bunkum.

    The Hero William Somerset Maugham
  • The atrocities that these civilians have been and are guilty of are avenged in a savage manner.

British Dictionary definitions for atrocities


noun (pl) -ties
behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless
the fact or quality of being atrocious
(usually pl) acts of extreme cruelty, esp against prisoners or civilians in wartime
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atrocities



1530s, from Middle French atrocité or directly from Latin atrocitatem (nominative atrocitas) "cruelty, fierceness, harshness," noun of quality from atrox "fierce, cruel, frightful," from PIE *atro-ek-, from root *ater- "fire" (see atrium) + *okw- "see" (see eye (n.)); thus "of fiery or threatening appearance." The meaning "an atrocious deed" is from 1793.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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