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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. Extremely or shockingly ugly.
    A piteous and hideous spectacle.
  2. Having a very unpleasant or frightening sound
    • 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]