View synonyms for terrible


[ ter-uh-buhl ]


  1. distressing; severe:

    a terrible winter.

  2. extremely bad; horrible:

    terrible coffee;

    a terrible movie.

  3. exciting terror, awe, or great fear; dreadful; awful.

    Synonyms: horrid, horrendous, horrible, dire, appalling, frightful, fearful

  4. formidably great:

    a terrible responsibility.


/ ˈtɛrəbəl /


  1. very serious or extreme

    a terrible cough

  2. informal.
    of poor quality; unpleasant or bad

    a terrible play

    a terrible meal

  3. causing terror
  4. causing awe

    the terrible nature of God

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Derived Forms

  • ˈterribleness, noun

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Other Words From

  • terri·ble·ness noun
  • un·terri·ble adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of terrible1

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin terribilis, equivalent to terr(ēre) “to frighten” + -ibilis -ible

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Word History and Origins

Origin of terrible1

C15: from Latin terribilis, from terrēre to terrify

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Example Sentences

Aki was dead right — the way I’d handled the situation was terrible.

Maybe even, if the threat seems terrible enough and the situation pulls you along, drawing the worst from you, you might find yourself a perpetrator.

Seems like it would have been easier to write how terrible a style choice oversized T-shirts are.

From Ozy

He was a business owner also, and it really did work, all the jobs I had that I was terrible at — well, no, it wasn’t that I’m terrible at, that I was angry at because I wasn’t getting the management I needed.

From Ozy

The workers at this facility had the courage to stand up against this terrible treatment.

He returned home to learn that his 9-year-old son had been awakened in the night by a terrible dream.

The birds are debeaked, suffer ulcers, and terrible feet conditions.

Amelia says some truly terrible things to Sam, supposedly inhabited by the Babadook but really consumed in grief.

Most frustratingly for the school chancellor, this made it all but impossible to fire terrible teachers.

I knew because I rifled through his mail that terrible October morning.

Judge or sheriff, it was all one to them, each being equally terrible in their eyes.

Terror drives you on; fate coerces you; you can't help yourself, and my delight is to make the plunge terrible.

The king was struck with horror at the description I had given him of those terrible engines, and the proposal I had made.

The history of that terrible hour is brightened by many such instances of native fealty.

He stood listening to what I was saying, and I recall that when I turned slightly and saw his face, it was terrible!


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More About Terrible

What does terrible mean?

Terrible is commonly used to mean extremely bad—awful, dreadful, or horrible.

It can also mean severe, as in I have a terrible case of the flu. (Of course, this sense of the word often overlaps with its meaning of “extremely bad.”)

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

Terrible is also a somewhat formal way of describing something as having great power or being worthy of awe. This sense of terrible is especially used to describe supernatural power, as in The wizard is known to wield a terrible force with his staff. 

Much less commonly, terrible can mean literally causing terror, but the related word terrifying is much more commonly used to mean this.

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

Where does terrible come from?

The first records of the word terrible come from the 1400s. It comes from the Latin terribilis, which ultimately derives from the Latin verb terrēre, meaning “to frighten” or “to terrify.” Terrēre is also the basis of terrify, terrifying, terror, and terrific. (Unlike horrific, the word terrific is almost never used to mean “terrifying” or “horrifying”—it usually means “very good” or “intense.”)

Terrible is most popularly used to simply mean “really bad,” in much the same way that horrible and awful are often used, as in I had a terrible time at that party—no one would talk to me! It’s very rarely used to mean truly horrific or terrifying. Real-life horror-like violence can be described as terrible, but you wouldn’t call a horror movie terrible to mean it was really scary—you’d probably call it terrifying. If it was really stupid and poorly made, though, then you could call it terrible. (Unless it was so bad it was good, in which case you might call it terrific!)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to terrible?

What are some synonyms for terrible?

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


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


How is terrible used in real life?

The word terrible is very common. It’s usually used negatively.



Try using terrible!

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

A. awful
B. horrible
C. lousy
D. lovely




Territerrible twos