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  1. extremely or shockingly wicked, cruel, or brutal: an atrocious crime.
  2. shockingly bad or tasteless; dreadful; abominable: an atrocious painting; atrocious manners.

Origin of atrocious

First recorded in 1660–70; atroci(ty) + -ous
Related formsa·tro·cious·ly, adverba·tro·cious·ness, noun

Synonyms for atrocious

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for atrocious


  1. extremely cruel or wicked; ruthlessatrocious deeds
  2. horrifying or shockingan atrocious road accident
  3. informal very bad; detestableatrocious writing
Derived Formsatrociously, adverbatrociousness, noun

Word Origin for atrocious

C17: from Latin ātrōx dreadful, from āter black
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 atrocious

1660s, from stem of Latin atrox "fierce, savage, cruel" (see atrocity) + -ous. Colloquial sense "very bad" is late 19c. Related: Atrociously; atrociousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper