Definition of terrible in English:

terrible

adjective

  • 1Extremely or distressingly bad or serious.

    ‘a terrible crime’
    ‘the terrible conditions in which the ordinary people lived’
    ‘terrible pain’
    • ‘It is a terrible reality that poor children in the South can get guns but not a decent meal.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘He was in terrible pain and I rang for the ambulance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I am, therefore, aware of the terrible effect that serious lung disease can have on an individual and their family.’
    • ‘Some people with terrible disabilities reveal extraordinary qualities, which enrich their own lives and those of people around them.’
    • ‘There, amid the danger and terrible conditions, he found a new sense of purpose.’
    • ‘Instead, he thought about Whitney, worried that she was in pain or that terrible things were happening to her.’
    • ‘In those first, terrible days after the storm and catastrophic flood, the poorest citizens were locked in a desperate struggle for survival.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This terrible tragedy has serious repercussions for animals, too.’
    • ‘All I can remember is the constant terrible pain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All her friends pray every day that the British government will bring the perpetrator of this terrible crime to justice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Everyone, especially the poor, felt the terrible effects of the famine of 1846 and 1847 with its suffering, death and destruction.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    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’
      • ‘In return, Jamie shuddered that it had been a ‘horrible, terrible film!’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The already terrible condition of Barcelona's poor had been augmented by a fierce downturn for the textile industry.’
      • ‘Just looking at that terrible green and blue colour scheme is enough to make me shudder.’
      • ‘If you do spot a moose or two, remember that they are large, wild creatures with terrible eyesight and a nasty disposition.’
      • ‘Furthermore, most new houses for relocated families are undesirable because of their distant location, poor facilities or terrible environment.’
      • ‘‘A debacle of poor grammar and terrible jokes’ would probably be more accurate and soon you will realize this.’
      • ‘It's not terrible, but there are two annoying qualities about it.’
      • ‘Most restaurants have terrible food for us poor veggies!’
      • ‘Do you fear that this is now going to - this terrible, poor taste is going to spread?’
      • ‘Do you fear it getting to the administration at all, or do you think this is just a horrible, terrible business scandal?’
      • ‘She's got this truly terrible habit of emphasising random syllables in news reports.’
      • ‘They plonk on roads and mess up the already terrible traffic system.’
      • ‘They're not embodying their characters and talking; they're actors poorly reciting their terrible lines.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both of these scenes look terrible, with very poor video quality, but they are nice to have and were a treat to find.’
      • ‘We understand the terrible effects such nasty behaviours can create, and we don't want it here.’
      • ‘While rats may not seem like a huge menace, they have a terrible effect on neighborhood morale and the quality of everyday life.’
      • ‘It plays poorly, looks terrible and sounds even worse.’
      • ‘‘This film features the character as a terrible and unpleasant person,’ Roth said adding that he regards himself as an angry man.’
      • ‘Rosé expected the smell to be ghastly and terrible, but it wasn't.’
      • ‘And so that's what I hope can be available for people in these troubled times, these terrible situations.’
      • ‘Then the most terrible and sickening thought struck Tori.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These poor are living under terrible conditions.’
      • ‘It's been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year for journalism.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The rather poor line-up and the terrible conditions dissuaded me from returning Sunday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's terrible being unemployed, poor and temporarily car-less.’
      • ‘This is also not to say that Hollywood films - especially when homogenized into one general category - are terrible and worthless, either.’
      • ‘Poor conditions cause injuries, as do the terrible shoes they wear until they are in shreds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The voice work on the dub is terrible and obnoxious, but the action scenes fare better, with great use of the sub and surrounds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I had a terrible time finding stores that stocked a selection of good quality flannel sheets in California.’
      • ‘Drinks were very poor and the service was terrible.’
      • ‘Soon the wealthy will look at the poor and notice how terrible their teeth are.’
      • ‘You'll likely get terrible work - or they'll ask for more money and threaten to walk out if you don't pay up.’
      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 Extremely incompetent or unskillful.
      ‘she is terrible at managing her money’
      • ‘Most hair loss treatments are pretty terrible at growing new hair, but aren't bad when it comes to keeping existing hair.’
      • ‘I think it probably has an okay plot, but I'm just terrible at writing it!’
      • ‘We are terrible at deciding not to do something.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I love singing but I'm terrible at it, but that won't stop me!’
      • ‘Tash had danced with Richard, who was surprisingly adept at a waltz, Sean, who wasn't, and David, who was terrible at everything.’
      • ‘Most people who work in kitchens are terrible at verbalizing what they need.’
      • ‘The tests are pretty boring, and usually easy (except for math, but that's just because I'm terrible at math).’
      • ‘I am terrible at answering the phone and calling people back.’
      • ‘Ruth himself used to hand out nicknames to teammates, mainly because he was terrible at remembering people's real names.’
      • ‘I am terrible at knowing how or when to take the step to move a relationship toward more intimacy.’
      • ‘One of the difficulties in filming animals is that they are terrible at taking direction.’
      • ‘It turned out Curtis was terrible at basketball.’
      • ‘I pretended to be concerned with my own affairs but it was hard considering the fact I was terrible at keeping to myself.’
      • ‘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'm terrible at writing stories, but I'm really trying to put in an effort.’
      • ‘Let's face it, they are a terrible, terrible offensive team.’
      • ‘I was never athletic, and I'm terrible at managing anger.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3informal attributive Used to emphasize the extent of something unpleasant or bad.
      ‘what 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.’
      • ‘Last night I put the sauce in the microwave and didn't watch it - it boiled over and made 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.’
      • ‘His fiancée was accidentally drowned on the very eve of their wedding and Joseph Scriven was plunged into terrible sorrow.’
      • ‘On one hand, the film is a terrible mess of plot holes, ridiculous premises, and overacting.’
      • ‘‘He seemed to be filled with terrible hopelessness,’ she writes.’
      • ‘This actually may be happening to some extent with the terrible AIDS pandemic that's occurring in Africa.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When I moved into my new house, the garden was a terrible mess.’
      • ‘Why would he be selfish enough to kill himself and leave poor Delia with this terrible burden?’
      • ‘The poor girl looked so beaten, with a terrible black eye.’
      • ‘The grief of the parents of this poor girl has been terrible.’
      • ‘I swallowed hard, trying to take in the sight of my home in such a terrible mess.’
      • ‘I am really looking forward to working on the games, but like many I'm worried I'll make a terrible mess of things.’
      • ‘By disguising himself as a mentally retarded person, he was able to experience and expose the terrible discrimination these poor souls must everyday endure.’
      • ‘Alladi Jayasri writes about Gurudev, who reminds us of the terrible calamities waiting to punish us for our cruelty to Nature.’
      • ‘The commission of inquiry exposed the terrible poverty, poor housing conditions and lack of social services that had led to the tragedy.’
      • ‘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.’
      incorrigible, outrageous, great, extreme
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4as complement Extremely unwell or troubled.
      ‘I was sick all night and felt terrible for two solid days’
      ‘Maria felt terrible because she had forgotten the woman's name’
      • ‘The options were overpriced, unattractive and could make a super model look terrible.’
      • ‘When someone approached and joked that he looked terrible, he smiled.’
      • ‘I paused before answering, feeling terrible and sick to my stomach.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And despite feeling much better I also feel terrible for being so nasty.’
      • ‘If you feel that terrible about it, try comparing yourself to yourself.’
      • ‘I looked at Gabriela Szabo after four laps and she looked absolutely terrible.’
      • ‘"You must have made her feel terrible, " he said.’
      • ‘One always feels sort of terrible disagreeing with people who have clearly endured horrors that you have no handle on.’
      • ‘I feel pretty terrible; you don't blame it on some poor videographer.’
      • ‘His face went white, he clutched his chest and the poor guy looked 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.’
      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’
    • ‘But he protested his innocence, and as he rambled on, Hera all the while smiled her terrible smile and stroked my flanks.’
    • ‘Shuto screamed an ancient battle cry and charged into the night, the only light in the dark the sinister eyes of his terrible adversaries.’
    • ‘‘Time to cut the cake,’ said Elaine's father with a terrible forced smile.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She brought the knife to Abby's throat, smiling in terrible triumph, and Chris screamed.’
    • ‘The dungeon of hell is a terrible but mysterious place.’
    • ‘In a world with only one remaining superpower, even small and materially poor states and groups can pose terrible threats.’
    • ‘Heathcliff was lying on his back, and he met Nelly with a terrible smile!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A spooky black lady smiles, nursing something terrible in a parcel.’
    • ‘He smiled a terrible smile and immediately left the room.’
    • ‘Ramirez smiled then, a terrible rictus with more than a hint of malice.’
    • ‘That terrible smile of his returned slyly, as if he knew precisely what he was doing.’
    • ‘Yet we knew a terrible secret far more sinister than Ray Martin's wig or the little green men at Roswell.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She turned to Wolf with a terrible little smile.’
    • ‘They both have terrible teeth, and consequently terrible, close-lipped smiles.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • terrible twos

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

      • ‘Like toddlers going through the terrible twos their only response to anything with which they disagree is childish destruction.’
      • ‘Initially, the couple put his behaviour down to the "terrible twos" syndrome.’
      • ‘Toddlers get much bad press, with talk of tantrums, whining and the terrible twos.’
      • ‘She never went through the "terrible twos."’
      • ‘This year's programmes explore the world of the " terrible twos ".’
      • ‘I am hopeful that she has just hit the doggy equivalent of the " terrible twos "!’
      • ‘Parents ' most challenging times may occur during their child's "terrible twos."’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thank God you are finally out of those terrible twos.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

terrible

/ˈterəb(ə)l//ˈtɛrəb(ə)l/