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[uh-tros-i-tee] /əˈtrɒs ɪ ti/
noun, plural atrocities.
the quality or state of being atrocious.
an atrocious act, thing, or circumstance.
Origin of atrocity
1525-35; < Latin atrōcitās, equivalent to atrōci- (stem of atrōx) fierce + -tās -ty2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for atrocity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The country, a little later England and the entire civilized world, stood aghast at the atrocity of the incident.

    Peggy Owen and Liberty Lucy Foster Madison
  • It was not content with atrocity, it must needs add cynicism.

    Napoleon the Little Victor Hugo
  • Few people go there and its literature, save that which grew out of the atrocity campaign, is meager and unsatisfactory.

    An African Adventure Isaac F. Marcosson
  • He revealed the atrocity of his mistress; and she was sent to prison.

    New Italian sketches John Addington Symonds
  • Was not this, then, security enough that they would never again perpetrate a crime of like atrocity?

British Dictionary definitions for atrocity


noun (pl) -ties
behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless
the fact or quality of being atrocious
(usually pl) acts of extreme cruelty, esp against prisoners or civilians in wartime
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
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Word Origin and History for atrocity

1530s, from Middle French atrocité or directly from Latin atrocitatem (nominative atrocitas) "cruelty, fierceness, harshness," noun of quality from atrox "fierce, cruel, frightful," from PIE *atro-ek-, from root *ater- "fire" (see atrium) + *okw- "see" (see eye (n.)); thus "of fiery or threatening appearance." The meaning "an atrocious deed" is from 1793.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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