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From Middle English hidous, from Anglo-Norman hidous, from Old French hideus, hydus ‎(that which inspires terror), from earlier hisdos, from hisda ‎(horror, fear), of uncertain and disputed origin. Probably from Frankish *egisda, *egisida ‎(terror, fright), from Proto-Germanic *agisiþō ‎(horror, terror), from Proto-Germanic *agisōną ‎(to frighten, terrorise), from Proto-Germanic *agaz ‎(terror, fear), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂egʰ- ‎(to frighten). Cognate with Old High German egisa, egidī ‎(horror), Old English egesa ‎(fear, dread), Gothic 𐌰𐌲𐌹𐍃 ‎(agis, fear, terror).

Alternative etymology cites possbile derivation from Latin hispidosus ‎(rugged), from hispidus ‎(rough, bristly), yet the semantic evolution is less plausible.



hideous ‎(comparative more hideous, superlative most hideous)

  1. Frightful; shocking; extremely ugly.
    A piteous and hideous spectacle." Thomas Babington Macaulay.
  2. Distressing or offensive to the ear; horrible.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      He started up, growling at first, but finding his leg broken, fell down again; and then got upon three legs, and gave the most hideous roar that ever I heard.
  3. Hateful; shocking.
    Sure, you have some hideous matter to deliver. - William Shakespeare

Usage notes[edit]

  • Nouns to which "hideous" is often applied: monster, creature, man, face, thing, crime, form, death, aspect, spectacle, picture, roar, sound, manner, way, disease, mistake, shape, dress, fact, act, smile.


Derived terms[edit]