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Alternative forms[edit]


From French terrifique, and its source, Latin terrificus (terrifying), from terrere (to frighten, terrify) + -ficus, from facere (to make).


  • IPA(key): /təˈɹɪfɪk/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪfɪk


terrific (comparative more terrific, superlative most terrific)

  1. (now rare) Terrifying, causing terror; terrible; sublime, awe-inspiring. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:frightening
    • 1798, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, “[Maria: or, The] Wrongs of Woman”, in W[illiam] Godwin, editor, Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. [], volume I, London: [] J[oseph] Johnson, []; and G[eorge,] G[eorge] and J[ohn] Robinson, [], →OCLC, chapter III, page 50:
      [T]he diſmal ſhrieks of demoniac rage [] rouſed phantoms of horror in her mind, far more terrific than all that dreaming ſuperſtition ever drew.
    • 1820, [Charles Robert Maturin], Melmoth the Wanderer: A Tale. [], volume II, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Company, and Hurst, Robinson, and Co., [], →OCLC, page 154:
      Think of wandering amid sepulchral ruins, of stumbling over the bones of the dead, of encountering what I cannot describe,—the horror of being among those who are neither the living or the dead;—those dark and shadowless things that sport themselves with the reliques of the dead, and feast and love amid corruption,—ghastly, mocking, and terrific.
    • 1860, Charles Dickens, Captain Murderer:
      He made love in a coach and six, and married in a coach and twelve, and all his horses were milk-white horses with one red spot on the back which he caused to be hidden by the harness. For, the spot would come there, though every horse was milk-white when Captain Murderer bought him. And the spot was young bride's blood. (To this terrific point I am indebted for my first personal experience of a shudder and cold beads on the forehead.)
  2. Very strong or intense; excessive, tremendous. [from 18th c.]
    The car came round the bend at a terrific speed.
    I've got a terrific hangover this morning.
    • 1769, Joseph Collyer, transl., The Messiah[1], 4th edition, page 280:
      The ſtar tremulous turn'd its thundering poles, and the whole creation reſounded; when, with terrific haſte, Adamida, in obediance to the divine command, flew amidſt overwhelming ſtorms, ruſhing clouds, falling mountains, and ſwelling ſeas.
    • 1943, H. Lorna Bingham, The Lost Tribe, Sydney: Winn and Co., page 23, column 2:
      When the warriors saw this, their cheers were terrific.
    • 1954, “(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays”, Al Stillman (lyrics), Robert Allen (music):
      From Atlantic to Pacific / Gee, the traffic is terrific.
  3. Extremely good; excellent, amazing. [from 19th c.]
    I say! She's a terrific tennis player.


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Further reading[edit]