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From Latin atrōx (cruel, fierce, frightful) +‎ -ious.



atrocious (comparative more atrocious, superlative most atrocious)

  1. Frightful, evil, cruel, or monstrous.
    Prisons have been the sites of atrocious mistreatment of prisoners.
  2. Offensive or heinous.
    • 1818, anonymous [Mary Shelley], chapter VIII, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, London: Printed for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, →OCLC; republished as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus […] In Two Volumes, volume I, new (2nd) edition, London: Printed for G. and W. B. Whittaker, Ave-Maria-Lane, 1823, →OCLC, page 143:
      I had resolved in my own mind, that to create another like the fiend I had first made would be an act of the basest and most atrocious selfishness; and I banished from my mind every thought that could lead to a different conclusion.
  3. Very bad; abominable, disgusting.
    Their taste in clothes is just atrocious.
    • 1851 October 18, Herman Melville, “The Town-Ho’s Story. (As Told at the Golden Inn.)”, in The Whale, 1st British edition, London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC; republished as Moby Dick or The White Whale (Famous Sea Stories), Boston, Mass.: The St. Botolph Society, 53 Beacon Street, 1892 (February 1922 printing), →OCLC, page 239:
      Others of the sailors joined with them in this attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued; while standing out of harm's way, the valiant captain danced up and down with a whale-pike, calling upon his officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke him along to the quarter-deck.
    • 1897 November, Winston Churchill, chapter IV, in The Celebrity, New York, N.Y.: Macmillan, →OCLC; republished as The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: Grosset & Dunlap, publishers, January 1898 (March 1912 printing), →OCLC, page 58:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. The three returned wondering and charmed with Mrs. Cooke; they were sure she had had no hand in the furnishing of that atrocious house.

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