• synonyms


adjective, ug·li·er, ug·li·est.
  1. very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.
  2. disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable: ugly tricks; ugly discords.
  3. morally revolting: ugly crime.
  4. threatening trouble or danger: ugly symptoms.
  5. mean; hostile; quarrelsome: an ugly mood; an ugly frame of mind.
  6. (especially of natural phenomena) unpleasant or dangerous: ugly weather; an ugly sea.
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Origin of ugly

1200–50; Middle English ugly, uglike < Old Norse uggligr fearful, dreadful, equivalent to ugg(r) fear + -ligr -ly
Related formsug·li·ly, adverbug·li·ness, nounsu·per·ug·ly, adjective



Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for uglily

Historical Examples

  • "Been listening to all our talk, I suppose," said Cuffer, uglily.

    The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle

    Edward Stratemeyer (AKA Arthur M. Winfield)

  • "Say, this isn't any of your fight," put in Slugger Brown, uglily.

  • "Then I want to tell you that he has no right to interfere with me," went on Napoleon Martell, uglily.

  • He was ugly, that was all; nothing more nor less; in short, he was uglily ugly.

British Dictionary definitions for uglily


adjective -lier or -liest
  1. of unpleasant or unsightly appearance
  2. repulsive, objectionable, or displeasing in any waywar is ugly
  3. ominous or menacingan ugly situation
  4. bad-tempered, angry, or sullenan ugly mood
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Derived Formsuglily, adverbugliness, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old Norse uggligr dreadful, from ugga fear
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 uglily



mid-13c., uglike "frightful or horrible in appearance," from Old Norse uggligr "dreadful, fearful," from uggr "fear, apprehension, dread" (perhaps related to agg "strife, hate") + -ligr "-like." Meaning softened to "very unpleasant to look at" late 14c. Extended sense of "morally offensive" is attested from c.1300; that of "ill-tempered" is from 1680s.

Among words for this concept, ugly is unusual in being formed from a root for "fear, dread." More common is a compound meaning "ill-shaped" (e.g. Greek dyseides, Latin deformis, Irish dochrud, Sanskrit ku-rupa). Another Germanic group has a root sense of "hate, sorrow" (see loath). Ugly duckling (1877) is from the story by Hans Christian Andersen, first translated from Danish to English 1846. Ugly American "U.S. citizen who behaves offensively abroad" is first recorded 1958 as a book title.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with uglily


In addition to the idioms beginning with ugly

  • ugly as sin
  • ugly customer
  • ugly duckling

also see:

  • rear its ugly head
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.