See more synonyms for ugly on
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.

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

Synonyms for ugly

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Antonyms for ugly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ugly

Contemporary Examples of ugly

Historical Examples of ugly

  • One of mine, as I have heretofore said, is to give an ugly likeness.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • "Because we have chosen what is bad, and do not know how ugly it is—that is why," answered her father.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • But was it possible he should ever wake to see how ugly his conduct had been?

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • I could almost marry Strathay to save him from the ugly millioned girls!

  • "You may be ugly, but ye've served me well," Saunders began.

British Dictionary definitions for ugly


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
Derived Formsuglily, adverbugliness, noun

Word Origin for ugly

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 ugly

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ugly


In addition to the idioms beginning with ugly

  • ugly as sin
  • ugly customer
  • ugly duckling

also see:

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