extraordinarily great or intense: terrific speed.
extremely good; wonderful: a terrific vacation.
causing terror; terrifying.

Origin of terrific

1660–70; < Latin terrificus frightening, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -i- -i- + -ficus -fic
Related formster·rif·i·cal·ly, adverbun·ter·rif·ic, adjectiveun·ter·rif·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for terrific

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

Examples from the Web for terrific

Contemporary Examples of terrific

Historical Examples of terrific

  • The school was under the head-mastership of "the terrific Dr. Keate."

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Barry entered the army under the most terrific pressure only.


    Scian Dubh

  • He saw the terrific pace that the Indian had set the others.


    W. A. Fraser

  • In the end, it will be seen by what a terrific lesson I finally learned to swim.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • We took the weight of the last in squalls, some of which were terrific.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for terrific



very great or intensea terrific noise
informal very good; excellenta terrific singer
very frightening
Derived Formsterrifically, adverb

Word Origin for terrific

C17: from Latin terrificus, from terrēre to frighten; see -fic
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 terrific

1660s, "frightening," from Latin terrificus "causing terror or fear," from terrere "fill with fear" (see terrible) + root of facere "to make" (see factitious). Weakened sensed of "very great, severe" (e.g. terrific headache) appeared 1809; colloquial sense of "excellent" began 1888.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper