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From Middle French énormité, from Latin ēnormitās, from ēnormis.



enormity ‎(plural enormities)

  1. (uncountable) Extreme wickedness, nefariousness. [from 15th c.]
    Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot's oppression.
  2. (countable) An act of extreme evil or wickedness. [from 15th c.]
  3. (uncountable) Hugeness, enormousness, immenseness. [from 18th c.]
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, BBC Sport:
      Rooney and his team-mates started ponderously, as if sensing the enormity of the occasion, but once Scholes began to link with Ryan Giggs in the middle of the park, the visitors increased the tempo with Sunderland struggling to keep up.
    • 2007, Edwin Mullins, The Popes of Avignon, Blue Bridge 2008, p. 103:
      But the enormity of Clement's vision of papal grandeur only became clear once the public rooms were completed during the years that immediately followed.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Enormity is frequently used as a synonym for "enormousness," rather than "great wickedness." This is frequently considered an error; the words have different roots in French, and radically different accepted meanings, although both trace back to the same Latin source word, enormis, meaning "deviating from the norm, abnormal."


Related terms[edit]