from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Very good or fine; splendid: a terrific tennis player.
  • adj. Awesome; astounding: drove at a terrific rate of speed.
  • adj. Causing terror or great fear; terrifying: a terrific wail.
  • adj. Very bad or unpleasant; frightful: a terrific headache.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Frighteningly good.
  • adj. Astounding or awesome.
  • adj. Terrifying; causing terror
  • adj. Frightful or very unpleasant.
  • adj. Extraordinarily great or intense.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Causing terror; adapted to excite great fear or dread; terrible

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Causing terror; fitted to excite great fear or dread; dreadful: as, a terrific storm.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. extraordinarily good or great ; used especially as intensifiers
  • adj. causing extreme terror
  • adj. very great or intense


Latin terrificus : terrēre, to frighten + -ficus, -fic.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin terrificus ("causing terror"), from terrere ("to frighten, terrify") + -ficus, from facere ("to make"). (Wiktionary)



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  • A contranym: it means both "inducing terror" and fantastic or amazing.

    May 15, 2008

  • "But, Charlotte," said Wilbur, "I'm not terrific."
    "That doesn't make a particle of difference," replied Charlotte. "Not a particle. People believe almost anything they see in print."
    –Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

    April 20, 2008