AskDefine | Define horrible

Dictionary Definition

horrible adj : provoking horror; "an atrocious automobile accident"; "a frightful crime of decapitation"; "an alarming, even horrifying, picture"; "war is beyond all words horrible"- Winston Churchill; "an ugly wound" [syn: atrocious, frightful, horrifying, ugly]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested in (alternately as horrible and orrible) in 1303: from horrible, from horribilis, from horrere + -ibilis.


  • a RP /ˈhɔɹɪbl/


  1. A thing that causes horror; a terrifying thing, particularly a prospective bad consequence asserted as likely to result from an act.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick
      Here's a carcase. I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing. Such a waggish leering as lurks in all your horribles!
    • 1982, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, The Genocide Convention: Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate
      A lot of the possible horribles conjured up by the people objecting to this convention ignore the plain language of this treaty.
    • 1991, Alastair Scott, Tracks Across Alaska: A Dog Sled Journey
      The pot had previously simmered skate wings, cods' heads, whales, pigs' hearts and a long litany of other horribles.
    • 2000, John Dean, CNN interview, January 21, 2000:
      I'm trying to convince him that the criminal behavior that's going on at the White House has to end. And I give him one horrible after the next. I just keep raising them. He sort of swats them away.
    • 2001, Neil K. Komesar, Law's Limits: The Rule of Law and the Supply and Demand of Rights
      Many scholars have demonstrated these horribles and contemplated significant limitations on class actions.
  2. A person wearing a comic or grotesque costume in a parade of horribles.


terrifying thing


  1. Causing horror; terrible; shocking.
  2. Tremendously wrong or errant.


(causing horror, terrible)
  • "Some of us have had plastic surgery on our faces and fingerprints. Right now we have a horrible job; we're waiting for the war to begin and, as quickly, end." - Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953
  • "Strangers fainted dead away at the sight of the Laughing Man's horrible face. Acquaintances shunned him." - The Laughing Man, J. D. Salinger, The New Yorker, March 19, 1949
(tremendously wrong or errant)
  • "Her own mother lived the latter years of her life in the horrible suspicion that electricity was dripping invisibly all over the house." - My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber, 1933


causing horror, terrible
tremendously wrong or errant
Translations to be checked





horrible (plural: horribles)
  1. horrible; causing horror.



  1. horrible

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Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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