See more synonyms for terrible on Thesaurus.com
  1. distressing; severe: a terrible winter.
  2. extremely bad; horrible: terrible coffee; a terrible movie.
  3. exciting terror, awe, or great fear; dreadful; awful.
  4. formidably great: a terrible responsibility.

Origin of terrible

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin terribilis, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ibilis -ible
Related formster·ri·ble·ness, nounun·ter·ri·ble, adjective

Synonyms for terrible

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3. fearful, frightful, appalling, dire, horrible, horrifying, terrifying, horrendous, horrid.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for terrible

Contemporary Examples of terrible

Historical Examples of terrible

  • But then, I always was a terrible poor judge of human nature.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It is not necessary to dwell on every incident of this terrible journey.

  • The struggle to keep alive during the cold period was terrible.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The darkness of a terrible storm hid it from the eye of man.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Soon the news of his terrible deed spread throughout the land.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

British Dictionary definitions for terrible


  1. very serious or extremea terrible cough
  2. informal of poor quality; unpleasant or bada terrible meal; a terrible play
  3. causing terror
  4. causing awethe terrible nature of God
Derived Formsterribleness, noun

Word Origin for terrible

C15: from Latin terribilis, from terrēre to terrify
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 terrible

early 15c., "causing terror, frightful," from Old French terrible (12c.), from Latin terribilis "frightful," from terrere "fill with fear," from PIE root *tres- "to tremble" (cf. Sanskrit trasati "trembles," Avestan tarshta "feared, revered," Greek treëin "to tremble," Lithuanian triseti "to tremble," Old Church Slavonic treso "I shake," Middle Irish tarrach "timid"). Weakened sense of "very bad, awful" is first attested 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper