[ ter-uh-blee ]
/ ˈtɛr ə bli /
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in a terrible manner.
Informal. extremely; very: It's terribly late. I'm terribly sorry.
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Origin of terribly

First recorded in 1520–30; terrible + -ly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does terribly mean?

Terribly means in a way that’s terrible—awfully, horribly, or extremely bad.

The adjective terrible has a few different meanings, but the adverb form terribly is usually based on its sense meaning extremely bad or horrible, as in I did terribly on that test or The children behaved terribly this morning.

Terribly is also commonly used to mean very or extremely, as in We’re terribly sorry. When used this way, it’s an intensifier—a word used to strengthen or emphasize the word it modifies.

This sense of the word is commonly used in negative constructions, such as not terribly exciting, which means the same thing as not very exciting.

Example: I’m not terribly interested in going on a trip with Jeff, especially since I’ve heard he drives terribly.

Where does terribly come from?

The first records of the word terribly come from the 1400s. Terrible 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, and terror.

Terrible is most popularly used to simply mean “really bad,” in much the same way that horrible and awful are often used. The adverb awfully is a close synonym for terribly both when it means “very bad” and when it means “very.” When used to mean “very,” it’s perhaps even more commonly used in negative ways, such as saying that two things are not terribly different or that something is not terribly exciting.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to terribly?

What are some synonyms for terribly?

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


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


How is terribly used in real life?

Both senses of the word terribly are commonly used.



Try using terribly!

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

A. awfully
B. horribly
C. badly
D. nicely

How to use terribly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for terribly

/ (ˈtɛrəblɪ) /

in a terrible manner
(intensifier)you're terribly kind
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