enormity

[ih-nawr-mi-tee]
noun, plural enormities.
1.
outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness: the enormity of war crimes.
2.
something outrageous or heinous, as an offense: The bombing of the defenseless population was an enormity beyond belief.
3.
greatness of size, scope, extent, or influence; immensity: The enormity of such an act of generosity is staggering.

Origin:
1425–75; late Middle English enormite < Middle French < Latin ēnormitās. See enorm, -ty2

enormity, enormousness (see usage note at the current entry).


1. monstrousness, heinousness. 3. hugeness, vastness.


3. Enormity has been in frequent and continuous use in the sense “immensity” since the 18th century: The enormity of the task was overwhelming. Some hold that enormousness is the correct word in that sense and that enormity can only mean “outrageousness” or “atrociousness”: The enormity of his offenses appalled the public. Enormity occurs regularly in edited writing with the meanings both of great size and of outrageous or horrifying character, behavior, etc. Many people, however, continue to regard enormity in the sense of great size as nonstandard.
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World English Dictionary
enormity (ɪˈnɔːmɪtɪ)
 
n , pl -ties
1.  the quality or character of being outrageous; extreme wickedness
2.  an act of great wickedness; atrocity
3.  informal vastness of size or extent
 
usage  In modern English, it is common to talk about the enormity of something such as a task or a problem, but one should not talk about the enormity of an object or area: distribution is a problem because of India's enormous size (not India's enormity)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

enormity
late 15c., from Fr. énormité, from L. enormitatem, from enormis (see enormous).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Enormity does not mean enormous but great wickedness, a monstrous act.
Memories of an earlier enormity are one reason for the hysteria.
As the fire truck drives away you can see the enormity of the fire.
The enormity of the neighborhood's affliction will take a few more years to
  come to light.
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