[ hawr-uh-buhl, hor- ]
/ ˈhɔr ə bəl, ˈhɒr- /
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See synonyms for: horrible / horribleness / horribly on Thesaurus.com

causing or tending to cause horror; shockingly dreadful:a horrible sight.
extremely unpleasant; deplorable; disgusting: horrible living conditions.
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Origin of horrible

1275–1325; Middle English (h)orrible<Old French <Latin horribilis, equivalent to horr- (stem of horrēre to stand on end, bristle with fear) + -ibilis-ible


hor·ri·ble·ness, nounhor·ri·bly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does horrible mean?

Horrible is popularly used to mean extremely bad—awful, dreadful, or horrendous.

When it’s used to describe a person, it often means extremely disagreeable or cruel.

Much less commonly, it can mean literally causing horror—horrifying or horrific.

Example: Everyone seems to like that restaurant, but I had a horrible experience there—bad food and even worse service.

Where does horrible come from?

The first records of the word horrible come from around 1300. It comes from the Latin horribilis, which ultimately derives from the Latin verb horrēre, meaning “to tremble” or “to bristle with fear” (a reference to one’s hair standing on end due to extreme fear). Horrēre is also the basis of the word horror and the related words horrific, horrifying, and horrid.

Horrible is most popularly used to simply mean “really bad,” in much the same way that terrible and awful are often used, as in I had a horrible time at that party—no one would talk to me! Sometimes, though, horrible means truly horrific or horrifying, as in In my 30 years on the job, I’ve never seen a crime scene more horrible than this. Real-life horror-like violence can be described as horrible, but you wouldn’t call a horror movie horrible to mean it was really scary—you’d probably call it horrifying or terrifying. If it was really stupid and poorly made, though, then you could call it horrible. (Unless it was so bad that it was good, in which case you might call it terrific!)

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What are some other forms related to horrible?

  • horribly (adverb)
  • horribleness (noun)

What are some synonyms for horrible?

What are some words that share a root or word element with horrible


What are some words that often get used in discussing horrible?


How is horrible used in real life?

The word horrible is always negative, but it’s commonly used in both serious and not-so-serious contexts.



Try using horrible!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of horrible?

A. awful
B. terrible
C. lousy
D. delightful

How to use horrible in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for horrible

/ (ˈhɒrəbəl) /

causing horror; dreadful
disagreeable; unpleasant
informal cruel or unkind

Derived forms of horrible

horribleness, noun

Word Origin for horrible

C14: via Old French from Latin horribilis, from horrēre to tremble
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