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[ter-uh-buh l] /ˈtɛr ə bəl/
distressing; severe:
a terrible winter.
extremely bad; horrible:
terrible coffee; a terrible movie.
exciting terror, awe, or great fear; dreadful; awful.
formidably great:
a terrible responsibility.
Origin of terrible
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin terribilis, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ibilis -ible
Related forms
terribleness, noun
unterrible, adjective
3. fearful, frightful, appalling, dire, horrible, horrifying, terrifying, horrendous, horrid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for terrible
  • It now dawned on the privy council that it had made a terrible mistake.
  • However harsh and terrible the solution, there would be no other.
  • That the tsar ivan the terrible to be a collation of four rulers, no less.
  • He died after telling mai to end the fight quickly, because war is a terrible thing.
  • terrible accounts are given of the severity of his penitential practices.
  • In his novel a terrible temptation, he introduced himself as dr rolfe.
  • However, terrible weather came to the area in the following years causing severe damage.
British Dictionary definitions for terrible


very serious or extreme: a terrible cough
(informal) of poor quality; unpleasant or bad: a terrible meal, a terrible play
causing terror
causing awe: the terrible nature of God
Derived Forms
terribleness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin terribilis, from terrēre to terrify
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 terrible

early 15c., "causing terror, frightful," from Old French terrible (12c.), from Latin terribilis "frightful," from terrere "fill with fear," from PIE root *tres- "to tremble" (cf. Sanskrit trasati "trembles," Avestan tarshta "feared, revered," Greek treëin "to tremble," Lithuanian triseti "to tremble," Old Church Slavonic treso "I shake," Middle Irish tarrach "timid"). Weakened sense of "very bad, awful" is first attested 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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