noun, plural a·troc·i·ties.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for atrocity

Contemporary Examples of atrocity

Historical Examples of atrocity

  • And then I thought how wicked I might have been,—a monster of crime and atrocity.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • The enemy, he said, meant by this atrocity to frighten our sailors away from the sea.

  • Doctor Crosson mopped his brow at the atrocity of his thoughts this morning.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • The folly of such a government corrects and tempers its atrocity.

  • It was not content with atrocity, it must needs add cynicism.

British Dictionary definitions for atrocity


noun plural -ties

behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless
the fact or quality of being atrocious
(usually plural) 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

Word Origin and History for atrocity

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