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[hawr-uh-buhl, hor-]
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  1. causing or tending to cause horror; shockingly dreadful: a horrible sight.
  2. 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
Related formshor·ri·ble·ness, nounhor·ri·bly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for horribleness

Historical Examples

  • It looked so nice and comfortable, compared with the horribleness outside.


    Mary Louisa Molesworth

  • Amidst the horribleness of the dead, the men fought and lived.

    Australia in Arms

    Phillip F.E. Schuler

  • The horribleness of thus bidding for Bethulah flashed on me even as I spoke.

    Ghetto Tragedies

    Israel Zangwill

  • He knew they spoke of the horribleness of death; but what was the cold script to the actuality?

  • Cain's words therefore are here to be understood affirmatively, and they show the horribleness of his despair.

British Dictionary definitions for horribleness


  1. causing horror; dreadful
  2. disagreeable; unpleasant
  3. informal cruel or unkind
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Derived Formshorribleness, noun

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for horribleness



c.1300, from Old French horrible, orrible (12c.) "horrible, repugnant, terrifying," from Latin horribilis "terrible, fearful, dreadful," from horrere "to bristle with fear, shudder" (see horror). Used as a mere intensifier from mid-15c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper