[ ter-uh-buhl ]
/ ˈtɛr ə bəl /


distressing; severe: a terrible winter.
extremely bad; horrible: terrible coffee; a terrible movie.
exciting terror, awe, or great fear; dreadful; awful.
formidably great: a terrible responsibility.

Nearby words

  1. terrestrial planet,
  2. terrestrial radiation,
  3. terrestrial telescope,
  4. terret,
  5. terri,
  6. terribly,
  7. terricolous,
  8. terrier,
  9. terrific,
  10. terrify

Origin of terrible

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin terribilis, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ibilis -ible

3. fearful, frightful, appalling, dire, horrible, horrifying, terrifying, horrendous, horrid.

Related formster·ri·ble·ness, nounun·ter·ri·ble, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for terribleness

British Dictionary definitions for terribleness


/ (ˈtɛrəbəl) /


very serious or extremea terrible cough
informal of poor quality; unpleasant or bada terrible meal; a terrible play
causing terror
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 terribleness



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