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atrocity

[uh-tros-i-tee]
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noun, plural a·troc·i·ties.
  1. the quality or state of being atrocious.
  2. an atrocious act, thing, or circumstance.
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Origin of atrocity

1525–35; < Latin atrōcitās, equivalent to atrōci- (stem of atrōx) fierce + -tās -ty2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for atrocities

atrocity

noun plural -ties
  1. behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless
  2. the fact or quality of being atrocious
  3. (usually plural) acts of extreme cruelty, esp against prisoners or civilians in wartime
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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

Word Origin and History for atrocities

atrocity

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper