Definition of terrible in English:

terrible

adjective

  • 1Extremely bad or serious.

    ‘a terrible crime’
    ‘the terrible conditions in which the ordinary people lived’
    • ‘I am, therefore, aware of the terrible effect that serious lung disease can have on an individual and their family.’
    • ‘All I can remember is the constant terrible pain.’
    • ‘He was in terrible pain and I rang for the ambulance.’
    • ‘In the 1950s, chemical weapons, like hydrogen bombs, became symbols of terror that could bring terrible destruction.’
    • ‘We can see a poor man in terrible trouble yet fail to help him.’
    • ‘All her friends pray every day that the British government will bring the perpetrator of this terrible crime to justice.’
    • ‘A spokesman said: ‘This was a truly terrible and tragic accident, at a time when they were supposed to be the happiest of their lives.’’
    • ‘That work was made for a hospital run by an order of monks whose mission was to serve people who were in terrible pain, especially those who had lost limbs.’
    • ‘Some people with terrible disabilities reveal extraordinary qualities, which enrich their own lives and those of people around them.’
    • ‘We learned, as too many other families learned, of the terrible pain and loneliness that must be endured as each day brings another reminder of this very long goodbye.’
    • ‘We have been sick for nearly three months - headaches, severe neck stiffness and pain, rashes and terrible fatigue.’
    • ‘Everyone, especially the poor, felt the terrible effects of the famine of 1846 and 1847 with its suffering, death and destruction.’
    • ‘I mean, people say the trial is itself proof that things have changed, that there is a consensus that these were terrible crimes and that someone must answer for them.’
    • ‘Rarely does television so sensitively and thoughtfully depict the terrible grief and pain of loss, with all its far-reaching and long-lived repercussions.’
    • ‘In those first, terrible days after the storm and catastrophic flood, the poorest citizens were locked in a desperate struggle for survival.’
    • ‘Those against capital punishment argue that it is brutal and degrading, while supporters regard it as an essential way of achieving vengeance/revenge for terrible crimes.’
    • ‘This terrible tragedy has serious repercussions for animals, too.’
    • ‘There, amid the danger and terrible conditions, he found a new sense of purpose.’
    • ‘It is a terrible reality that poor children in the South can get guns but not a decent meal.’
    • ‘Instead, he thought about Whitney, worried that she was in pain or that terrible things were happening to her.’
    dreadful, awful, appalling, horrific, horrifying, horrible, horrendous, atrocious, abominable, abhorrent, frightful, fearful, shocking, hideous, ghastly, grim, dire, hateful, unspeakable, gruesome, monstrous, sickening, heinous, vile
    severe, extreme, intense, excruciating, agonizing, unbearable, intolerable, unendurable, insufferable
    very bad, dreadful, awful, frightful, atrocious, hopeless, poor, inadequate, inferior, unsatisfactory, laughable, substandard
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Extremely unpleasant or disagreeable.
      ‘the weather was terrible’
      • ‘Do you fear that this is now going to - this terrible, poor taste is going to spread?’
      • ‘These poor are living under terrible conditions.’
      • ‘With a terrible script and poor design and direction, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has rapidly become known as the worst in the Stratford Festival's history.’
      • ‘You'll likely get terrible work - or they'll ask for more money and threaten to walk out if you don't pay up.’
      • ‘Jose Macias has had a terrible time offensively and defensively at second this year, and rookie Oscar Salazar is short on experience.’
      • ‘Life at the bottom of society was always difficult in the late medieval and early modern periods: but around 1600 conditions for many of the poor were terrible.’
      • ‘It's been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year for journalism.’
      • ‘Furthermore, most new houses for relocated families are undesirable because of their distant location, poor facilities or terrible environment.’
      • ‘I had a terrible time finding stores that stocked a selection of good quality flannel sheets in California.’
      • ‘Both of these scenes look terrible, with very poor video quality, but they are nice to have and were a treat to find.’
      • ‘Pre-season training is really terrible, sheer hell basically, but you always come back with fresh optimism and we have got to look forward now.’
      • ‘She's got this truly terrible habit of emphasising random syllables in news reports.’
      • ‘I bit back the urge to scream, as the wind whistled past my face and I braced myself for a sickening thud and terrible landing.’
      • ‘Just looking at that terrible green and blue colour scheme is enough to make me shudder.’
      • ‘They plonk on roads and mess up the already terrible traffic system.’
      • ‘This is also not to say that Hollywood films - especially when homogenized into one general category - are terrible and worthless, either.’
      • ‘It plays poorly, looks terrible and sounds even worse.’
      • ‘In return, Jamie shuddered that it had been a ‘horrible, terrible film!’’
      • ‘No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't manage to wake himself from the dreams, stuck in the terrible hell that was his own mind.’
      • ‘And so that's what I hope can be available for people in these troubled times, these terrible situations.’
      • ‘The voice work on the dub is terrible and obnoxious, but the action scenes fare better, with great use of the sub and surrounds.’
      • ‘Poor conditions cause injuries, as do the terrible shoes they wear until they are in shreds.’
      • ‘Here, despite the long and terrible years of the troubles, was a community rising on the economic and cultural tides, self-made and self-possessed.’
      • ‘Drinks were very poor and the service was terrible.’
      • ‘If you do spot a moose or two, remember that they are large, wild creatures with terrible eyesight and a nasty disposition.’
      • ‘Then the most terrible and sickening thought struck Tori.’
      • ‘While rats may not seem like a huge menace, they have a terrible effect on neighborhood morale and the quality of everyday life.’
      • ‘We understand the terrible effects such nasty behaviours can create, and we don't want it here.’
      • ‘It's a real mess and creates a terrible impression when millions of pounds are being spent to improve the main gateways to the city.’
      • ‘It's terrible being unemployed, poor and temporarily car-less.’
      • ‘Soon the wealthy will look at the poor and notice how terrible their teeth are.’
      • ‘The already terrible condition of Barcelona's poor had been augmented by a fierce downturn for the textile industry.’
      • ‘The rather poor line-up and the terrible conditions dissuaded me from returning Sunday.’
      • ‘It's not terrible, but there are two annoying qualities about it.’
      • ‘Most restaurants have terrible food for us poor veggies!’
      • ‘‘This film features the character as a terrible and unpleasant person,’ Roth said adding that he regards himself as an angry man.’
      • ‘Do you fear it getting to the administration at all, or do you think this is just a horrible, terrible business scandal?’
      • ‘‘A debacle of poor grammar and terrible jokes’ would probably be more accurate and soon you will realize this.’
      • ‘Rosé expected the smell to be ghastly and terrible, but it wasn't.’
      • ‘They're not embodying their characters and talking; they're actors poorly reciting their terrible lines.’
      nasty, disgusting, very unpleasant, awful, dreadful, ghastly, horrid, horrible, vile, foul, abominable, frightful, loathsome, revolting, repulsive, odious, sickening, nauseating, nauseous, repellent, repugnant, horrendous, hideous, appalling, offensive, objectionable, obnoxious
      unkind, nasty, unpleasant, foul, obnoxious, vile, contemptible, despicable, wretched, shabby
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Very unskilful.
      ‘despite passing my driving test first time, I'm a terrible driver’
      ‘I was terrible at basketball’
      • ‘We are terrible at deciding not to do something.’
      • ‘One of the difficulties in filming animals is that they are terrible at taking direction.’
      • ‘Ruth himself used to hand out nicknames to teammates, mainly because he was terrible at remembering people's real names.’
      • ‘Most of them are terrible at graphic design, and often see its deployment as an unwelcome imposition on their aesthetic vision.’
      • ‘This is a good time to mention that the Core Team is terrible at identifying birds.’
      • ‘The only problem was that Jonah wasn't very important at all, at least in his humble opinion, and he was terrible at making plans of any sort.’
      • ‘Tash had danced with Richard, who was surprisingly adept at a waltz, Sean, who wasn't, and David, who was terrible at everything.’
      • ‘The tests are pretty boring, and usually easy (except for math, but that's just because I'm terrible at math).’
      • ‘I love singing but I'm terrible at it, but that won't stop me!’
      • ‘Let's face it, they are a terrible, terrible offensive team.’
      • ‘I think it probably has an okay plot, but I'm just terrible at writing it!’
      • ‘I looked over at her; she mouthed something to me, but I'm terrible at reading lips so I just shook my head and shrugged.’
      • ‘I pretended to be concerned with my own affairs but it was hard considering the fact I was terrible at keeping to myself.’
      • ‘Most people who work in kitchens are terrible at verbalizing what they need.’
      • ‘It turned out Curtis was terrible at basketball.’
      • ‘I am terrible at answering the phone and calling people back.’
      • ‘Most hair loss treatments are pretty terrible at growing new hair, but aren't bad when it comes to keeping existing hair.’
      • ‘I am terrible at knowing how or when to take the step to move a relationship toward more intimacy.’
      • ‘I was never athletic, and I'm terrible at managing anger.’
      • ‘I'm terrible at writing stories, but I'm really trying to put in an effort.’
    3. 1.3informal attributive Used to emphasize the extent of something unpleasant or bad.
      ‘what a terrible mess’
      • ‘The closure of the Webb's chicken factory was a terrible blow to the town's economy, but presented civic leaders with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’
      • ‘This actually may be happening to some extent with the terrible AIDS pandemic that's occurring in Africa.’
      • ‘Alladi Jayasri writes about Gurudev, who reminds us of the terrible calamities waiting to punish us for our cruelty to Nature.’
      • ‘On one hand, the film is a terrible mess of plot holes, ridiculous premises, and overacting.’
      • ‘I swallowed hard, trying to take in the sight of my home in such a terrible mess.’
      • ‘By disguising himself as a mentally retarded person, he was able to experience and expose the terrible discrimination these poor souls must everyday endure.’
      • ‘I also had a couple of ciders and that together with the bright sunlight most likely brought on the terrible headache that incapacitated me in the evening.’
      • ‘‘He seemed to be filled with terrible hopelessness,’ she writes.’
      • ‘The commission of inquiry exposed the terrible poverty, poor housing conditions and lack of social services that had led to the tragedy.’
      • ‘When I moved into my new house, the garden was a terrible mess.’
      • ‘The poor girl looked so beaten, with a terrible black eye.’
      • ‘I am really looking forward to working on the games, but like many I'm worried I'll make a terrible mess of things.’
      • ‘His fiancée was accidentally drowned on the very eve of their wedding and Joseph Scriven was plunged into terrible sorrow.’
      • ‘Why would he be selfish enough to kill himself and leave poor Delia with this terrible burden?’
      • ‘We got up the next morning to find this room a terrible mess - dead leaves and branches, chips of bark and shards of glass everywhere.’
      • ‘Last night I put the sauce in the microwave and didn't watch it - it boiled over and made a terrible mess.’
      • ‘Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are amateurishly done, with terrible costumes including pathetic-looking tails.’
      • ‘For it was only when that shocked medics were able to examine the X-Rays that they were able to judge the full extent of his terrible injury.’
      • ‘It can be a particularly painful and unpleasant disease with serious side-effects which can take a terrible toll on quality of life.’
      • ‘The grief of the parents of this poor girl has been terrible.’
      incorrigible, outrageous, great, extreme
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 Very unwell or troubled.
      ‘I was sick all night and felt terrible for two days’
      • ‘I feel terrible at the disappointed tone in his voice… whatever it is he wants me to see, it's got to be something really good.’
      • ‘I looked at Gabriela Szabo after four laps and she looked absolutely terrible.’
      • ‘When someone approached and joked that he looked terrible, he smiled.’
      • ‘His face went white, he clutched his chest and the poor guy looked terrible.’
      • ‘One always feels sort of terrible disagreeing with people who have clearly endured horrors that you have no handle on.’
      • ‘If you feel that terrible about it, try comparing yourself to yourself.’
      • ‘I paused before answering, feeling terrible and sick to my stomach.’
      • ‘And despite feeling much better I also feel terrible for being so nasty.’
      • ‘The options were overpriced, unattractive and could make a super model look terrible.’
      • ‘Only it was, and now you feel terrible, downright sick to the bottom of your stomach, and the look on Noah's face makes you instantly regret your decision to tell him.’
      • ‘I feel pretty terrible; you don't blame it on some poor videographer.’
      • ‘"You must have made her feel terrible, " he said.’
      ill, unwell, poorly, bad, indisposed, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, out of sorts, green about the gills
      guilty, conscience-stricken, remorseful, guilt-ridden, ashamed, chastened, contrite, sorry, full of regret, regretful, repentant, penitent, shamefaced, self-reproachful, apologetic
      View synonyms
  • 2Causing or likely to cause terror; sinister.

    ‘the stranger gave a terrible smile’
    • ‘I was on my knees, my vision clouded in a haze of pain, and then I shook it off and stood up, a terrible smile on my face.’
    • ‘Shuto screamed an ancient battle cry and charged into the night, the only light in the dark the sinister eyes of his terrible adversaries.’
    • ‘Somewhere in the darkness, the faint echo of a terrible drawn out scream was carried on the breeze from the mountains and the three adventurers froze in place.’
    • ‘It emphasises how terrible the villain is: the woman's warning that the hero's life is in danger conveys to the audience how powerful the villain is, and thus makes the tale more exciting.’
    • ‘They both have terrible teeth, and consequently terrible, close-lipped smiles.’
    • ‘She turned to Wolf with a terrible little smile.’
    • ‘A spooky black lady smiles, nursing something terrible in a parcel.’
    • ‘‘Time to cut the cake,’ said Elaine's father with a terrible forced smile.’
    • ‘Heathcliff was lying on his back, and he met Nelly with a terrible smile!’
    • ‘That terrible smile of his returned slyly, as if he knew precisely what he was doing.’
    • ‘The dungeon of hell is a terrible but mysterious place.’
    • ‘Ramirez smiled then, a terrible rictus with more than a hint of malice.’
    • ‘But he protested his innocence, and as he rambled on, Hera all the while smiled her terrible smile and stroked my flanks.’
    • ‘Yet we knew a terrible secret far more sinister than Ray Martin's wig or the little green men at Roswell.’
    • ‘She brought the knife to Abby's throat, smiling in terrible triumph, and Chris screamed.’
    • ‘In a world with only one remaining superpower, even small and materially poor states and groups can pose terrible threats.’
    • ‘He said the arson gang were ‘sick and truly terrible individuals’ and condemned them and their families for laughing and joking during the trial, and when it concluded.’
    • ‘The sky was a lullaby of blue light and ice, but looking beyond that, near the edge of sight, there was a fire, something soothing and terrible at once.’
    • ‘He smiled a terrible smile and immediately left the room.’
    • ‘The woman stumbled back, a terrible smile on her pretty face, swallowing in the drink in her mouth before she allowed herself a grin, and then a laugh.’

Phrases

  • terrible twos

    • informal A period in a child's social development (typically around the age of two years) which is associated with very defiant or unruly behaviour.

      • ‘Thank God you are finally out of those terrible twos.’
      • ‘Initially, the couple put his behaviour down to the "terrible twos" syndrome.’
      • ‘All parents who have had young children have gone through what is euphemistically known as the "terrible twos".’
      • ‘Additionally, the "terrible twos" present an opportunity for parents to establish their discipline approach.’
      • ‘I am hopeful that she has just hit the doggy equivalent of the " terrible twos "!’
      • ‘Toddlers get much bad press, with talk of tantrums, whining and the terrible twos.’
      • ‘This year's programmes explore the world of the " terrible twos ".’
      • ‘She never went through the "terrible twos."’
      • ‘Parents ' most challenging times may occur during their child's "terrible twos."’
      • ‘Like toddlers going through the terrible twos their only response to anything with which they disagree is childish destruction.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘causing terror’): via French from Latin terribilis, from terrere ‘frighten’.

Pronunciation

terrible

/ˈtɛrɪb(ə)l/