Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English ugly, uggely, uglike, from Old Norse uggligr ‎(fearful, dreadful, horrible in appearance), from uggr ‎(fear, apprehension, dread) (possibly related to agg ‎(strife, hate)), equivalent to ug +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots ugly, uglie, Icelandic ugglegur. Meaning softened to "very unpleasant to look at" around the late 14th century, and sense of "morally offensive" attested from around 1300.



ugly ‎(comparative uglier, superlative ugliest)

  1. Displeasing to the eye; not aesthetically pleasing.
    • Spenser
      the ugly view of his deformed crimes
    • William Shakespeare
      O, I have passed a miserable night, / So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams.
  2. Displeasing to the ear or some other sense.
  3. Offensive to one's sensibilities or morality.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. It was ugly, gross. Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexion—or rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversation—such talk had been distressingly out of place.
    He played an ugly trick on us.
  4. Ill-natured; crossgrained; quarrelsome.
    an ugly temper;  to feel ugly
  5. Unpleasant; disagreeable; likely to cause trouble or loss.
    an ugly rumour;  an ugly customer
    Stay beautiful. Keep it ugly, killjoys
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ugly ‎(countable and uncountable, plural uglies)

  1. (slang, uncountable) Ugliness.
  2. (slang) An ugly person or thing.
  3. (Britain, informal, dated) A shade for the face, projecting from a bonnet.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Charles Kingsley to this entry?)


ugly ‎(third-person singular simple present uglies, present participle uglying, simple past and past participle uglied)

  1. (transitive, nonstandard) To make ugly (sometimes with up).
    • 2011, P. A. Krishnan, Muddy River
      I move noiselessly, eat my food carefully without uglying the dining table with its remnants, fold my bedsheets in neat rectangles and place them on the bed in perfect symmetry.
    • 2012, Najib George Awad, And Freedom Became a Public-square (page 197)
      There is time when the absence of either integrity or humility has uglied the face of the church before the world and turned Christianity into just another cocoon of condemnation and hypocrisy.
    • 2014, Jonathan Crocker, A Dream of Hope and Sorrow
      He had spent half of his journey mulling over how he would savour his revenge. He could already envision her pretty little form lying prone at his feet. He would take great pleasure in uglying her up a little before killing her.