From Latin ēgregius, from e- (out of), + grex (flock), + English adjective suffix -ous, from Latin suffix -osus (full of); reflecting the positive connotations of "standing out from the flock".


  • IPA(key): /ɪˈɡɹiː.d͡ʒəs/, /əˈɡɹiː.d͡ʒi.əs/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -iːdʒəs



egregious (comparative more egregious, superlative most egregious)

  1. Conspicuous, exceptional, outstanding; usually in a negative sense.
    The student has made egregious errors on the examination.
    • 16thC, Christopher Marlowe, Ignoto,
      I cannot cross my arms, or sigh "Ah me," / "Ah me forlorn!" egregious foppery! / I cannot buss thy fill, play with thy hair, / Swearing by Jove, "Thou art most debonnaire!"
    • c. 1604–1605 (date written), William Shakespeare, “All’s Well, that Ends Well”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii]:
      My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XXXI, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 257:
      Good Heaven! when we observe what egregious nonsense other people talk, what woful follies other people commit, sure we must be tempted to turn upon ourselves and ask—"What do I do that is equally silly?"
    • 22 March 2012, Scott Tobias, AV Club The Hunger Games[1]
      When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material—as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow—the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious.
    • 2014 January 21, Hermione Hoby, “Julia Roberts interview for August: Osage County – 'I might actually go to hell for this ...': Julia Roberts reveals why her violent, Oscar-nominated performance in August: Osage County made her feel 'like a terrible person' [print version: 'I might actually go to hell for this ...' (18 January 2014, p. R4)]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[2]:
      She's sitting opposite a window that's gently breezing into her face, wafting her hair into cover-girl perfection ... It's a little moment that seems to encapsulate her appeal: ... her gorgeousness being so egregious that even breezes oblige with their tousle-fanning effects ...
  2. Outrageously bad; shocking.
    • 1601, Ben Jonson, Poetaster or The Arraignment: [], London: [] [R. Bradock] for M[atthew] L[ownes] [], published 1602, →OCLC, Act III:
      Tuc[ca]. [] Can thy Author doe it impudently enough? / Hiſt[rio]. O, I warrant you, Captaine: and ſpitefully inough too; he ha's one of the moſt ouerflowing villanous wits, in Rome. He will ſlander any man that breathes; If he diſguſt him. / Tucca. I'le know the poor, egregious, nitty Raſcall; and he haue ſuch commendable Qualities, I'le cheriſh him: []

Usage notes


The negative meaning arose in the late 16th century, probably originating in ironic sarcasm. Before that, it meant outstanding in a good way. Webster also gives “distinguished” as an archaic meaning, and notes that contemporary usage often has an unpleasant connotation (for example, “an egregious error”). It generally precedes such epithets as ass, blunderer, rascal, and rogue. The Italian as well as Spanish cognate egregio has retained a strictly positive sense, as has the Portuguese cognate egrégio.

Derived terms