1. Causing great fear or alarm; dreadful: a terrible bolt of lightning; a terrible curse.
2. Extremely formidable: terrible responsibilities.
3. Extreme in extent or degree; intense: "the life for which he had paid so terrible a price" (Leslie Fiedler).
a. Unpleasant; disagreeable: had a terrible time at the party; terrible food.
b. Very bad: a terrible actor.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin terribilis, from terrēre, to frighten.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.