Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


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/
  • Rhymes: -ɪfɪk
  • (file)
  • (file)


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, Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman[1]:
      [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 1202978654, 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[2], 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.
  3. Extremely good; excellent, amazing. [from 19th c.]
    I say! She's a terrific tennis player.


Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]