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From Latin terrificus (causing terror), from terrere (to frighten, terrify) + -ficus, from facere (to make).


  • IPA(key): /təˈɹɪfɪk/
  • Rhymes: -ɪfɪk
  • (file)


terrific (comparative more terrific, superlative most terrific)

  1. (colloquial) Frighteningly good.
    I say! She's a terrific tennis player.
  2. (colloquial) Astounding or awesome.
    The car came round the bend at a terrific speed.
  3. (dated) Terrifying; causing terror.
    The lightning was followed by a terrific clap of thunder.
    • 1821, Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer, volume 2, 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.)
  4. Frightful or very unpleasant.
    I've got a terrific hangover this morning.
  5. (colloquial) Extraordinarily great or intense.
    terrific speed
    • 1769, Joseph Collyer, transl., The Messiah. Attempted from the German of Mr. Klopstock[1], 4th edition, page 280:
      The heavenly orbs heard the commanding voice reverbate from the mountains of Adamida. 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.


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