The original meaning of terrible was anything that causes terror. That meaning still applies, but mostly this is a word for anything really bad.

Terrible used to be reserved for things that caused fear and terror, but today we use the word to describe anything awful, lousy, or just plain bad. People like saying "That movie was terrible!" or "The Yankees are terrible!" If you get a D on a test, you might tell your friends the test (or teacher) is terrible. Or you might also say, "I am terrible at taking tests."

Definitions of terrible

adj exceptionally bad or displeasing

terrible handwriting”
abominable, abysmal, atrocious, awful, dreadful, painful, unspeakable
having undesirable or negative qualities

adj intensely or extremely bad or unpleasant in degree or quality

“a terrible cough”
severe, wicked
possessing or displaying a distinctive feature to a heightened degree

adj extreme in degree or extent or amount or impact

awful, frightful, tremendous
beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable

adj causing fear or dread or terror

“a terrible curse”
awful, dire, direful, dread, dreaded, dreadful, fearful, fearsome, frightening, horrendous, horrific
frightening because of an awareness of danger

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