From Late Middle English ēnorme (“monstrous or unnatural act; enormity”), from Old French énormité (“enormity”), from Latin ēnormitās (“irregularity; enormity”), from ēnōrmis (“irregular, unusual; enormous, immense”) + -itās (suffix forming nouns indicating states of being). Ēnōrmis is derived from e- (a variant of ex- (prefix meaning ‘out; away’) + nōrma (“norm, standard”) + -is (Latin suffix forming adjectives from nouns).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɪˈnɔːmɪti/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ɪˈnɔɹmɪti/, /-ɾi/
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- Hyphenation: enorm‧i‧ty
- (obsolete) Deviation from what is normal or standard; irregularity, abnormality.
- (uncountable) Deviation from moral normality; extreme wickedness, nefariousness, or cruelty. [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.
- 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter I, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. […], volume II, London: […] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, OCLC 830979744, page 6:
- I had an obscure feeling that all was not over, and that he would still commit some signal crime, which by its enormity should almost efface the recollection of the past.
- 2015 June 6, Duncan White, “Boston Marathon bombing: New book ‘Road to a Modern Tragedy’ examines Tsarnaev brothers’ motivation [print version: Behind the mask, page R23]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review), London, archived from the original on 11 June 2015:
- (countable) A breach of law or morality; a transgression, an act of evil or wickedness. [from 15th c.]
- 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter VII, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. […], volume I, London: […] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, OCLC 830979744, pages 161–162:
- Yet she appeared confident in innocence, and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands; for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have excited, was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed.
- 1870 July, Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigné, “Dr Merle D’Aubigne on the Council and Infallibility”, in The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, volume XIX, number LXXIII, London: James Nisbet & Co., Berners Street; Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, OCLC 5899908, page 591:
- Monsters of impurity, avaricious wretches, poisoners, have occupied the papal see. A learned bishop (Maret of the General Council) expresses himself with holy indignation in reference to the frightful enormities of the tenth century.
- 1972, Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down, Folio Society, published 2016, page 93:
- In 1650 Lieutenant William Jackson was in trouble for holding, among many other enormities, ‘community of all things’, including, apparently, wives.
- (uncountable) Great size; enormousness, hugeness, immenseness. [from 18th c.]
Enormity as a synonym for enormousness is sometimes considered an error, though other usage guides hold that there is little basis for the distinction. Both words ultimately go back to the same Latin source word ēnōrmis meaning “deviating from the norm, abnormal”.
- (deviation from what is normal or standard): anomalousness, oddness, weirdness; see also Thesaurus:strangeness
- (deviation from moral normality): atrociousness, depravity, immorality; see also Thesaurus:villainy
- (a breach of law or morality): desecration, violation
- (great size): immensity, prodigiousness