Definition of ugly in English:


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adjectiveadjective uglier, adjective ugliest

  • 1Unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance.

    ‘people in school always told me I was ugly’
    • ‘the ugly sound of a fire alarm’
    • ‘Despite their ugly appearance, their bodies are ideally shaped for relentless running down of prey.’
    • ‘Peter laughed, his voice sounding harsh and ugly, and his mouth twisted into a sardonic sneer.’
    • ‘The bookcase made an ugly scraping sound as they pushed it, but it was moving.’
    • ‘She tries to speak but there is only an ugly gasping sound.’
    • ‘The answer occurred to me almost straight away - I was repulsed because they were ugly!’
    • ‘What I didn't like was the cruel way the north wind would dry out my lips to such an extent that a huge ugly gash always appeared on my bottom lip.’
    • ‘I experience things as beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant, agreeable or disagreeable.’
    • ‘She refused to look up at him but his ugly reflection appeared in the water.’
    • ‘This weather will require you to dig out your ugly sweater.’
    • ‘I don't think he's ugly, but he's not what I normally go for.’
    • ‘This will produce a building that looks extremely ugly from the rear.’
    unattractive, ill-favoured, hideous, plain, plain-featured, plain-looking, unlovely, unprepossessing, unsightly, displeasing, disagreeable
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  • 2Involving or likely to involve violence or other unpleasantness.

    ‘the mood in the room turned ugly’
    • ‘Beyond that, there were no reports of violence and other ugly scenes that have characterised past elections.’
    • ‘I just don't see how creating an ugly, violent scene could possibly make those bereaved parents feel better.’
    • ‘It's hard not to warm to these men, who are nothing like the ugly, violent stereotypes we expect them to be.’
    • ‘Now that we have the names of the eight bidders, how interesting and how ugly is it likely to be?’
    • ‘I asked myself whether I really wanted to get involved in this ugly, terrible stuff.’
    • ‘Taiwanese realize the danger that China poses, but they do not think this is a danger that is likely to turn very ugly very quickly.’
    • ‘This is a film of uncompromising intensity and breathstealing beauty, as violent and ugly as anything that nature can conceive.’
    • ‘He says that we are not yet seeing the kind of rage which accompanies the surfing season in Australia, where crowded surf can lead to ugly scenes.’
    • ‘The ugly scenes witnessed last year are sure to make a comeback this year.’
    • ‘Luckily, the timely intervention of a dutiful cop prevented the scene from getting ugly.’
    • ‘Angry scenes and ugly fracas are commonplace as people scramble for the few available taxis.’
    • ‘You might have expected an ugly scene, or at least the odd raised voice.’
    • ‘As the ugly scenes on the pitch spilled over into the crowd, police were called to the Corbet Field ground.’
    • ‘I quickly called my partner over and we watched in terror as it all unfolded into a really ugly scene.’
    • ‘The management and board, smelling a big ugly scene, capitulated and accepted the union.’
    • ‘When thousands of desperate applicants instead showed up, the scene quickly turned ugly and the police intervened.’
    • ‘It was, in fact, not an ugly scene but at best it was one in which there might have been a subtle sneer involved.’
    • ‘Timely intervention by the respective authorities prevented an ugly scene.’
    • ‘Today these ugly scenes and remarks could be seen and heard on TV, worldwide, unlike in the past.’
    • ‘For a moment, it was if she had left her body and was watching this ugly scene happen to someone else.’
    unpleasant, nasty, alarming, disagreeable, tense, charged, serious, grave, dangerous, perilous, threatening, menacing, hostile, ominous, sinister
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    1. 2.1Unpleasantly suggestive; causing disquiet.
      ‘ugly rumors persisted that there had been a cover-up’
      • ‘She thought of the ugly rumors that were going around about her and it released her anger a little.’
      • ‘She looked at the boys as their mouths formed the sounds of ugly words, pouring down at her like hot molasses.’
      horrible, unpleasant, disagreeable, despicable, reprehensible, nasty, horrid, appalling, objectionable, offensive, obnoxious, foul, vile, base, dishonourable, dishonest, rotten, vicious, spiteful, malevolent, evil, wicked
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    2. 2.2Morally repugnant.
      ‘racism and its most ugly manifestations, racial attacks and harassment’
      • ‘These days most of us don't want to get too involved in national politics because it seems to partisan and ugly.’
      • ‘By doing this, it suggests continuity with the old regime, rather than complicity in an ugly coup of a popular mayor.’
      • ‘In his prime, his vindictiveness was ugly and frightening; now it's ugly and a little pathetic.’
      • ‘Sadly, the ugly arm of slavery reaches far beyond Sudan and shockingly touches every continent except Antarctica.’
      • ‘He is so ugly on the inside that his only forte is being beautiful and absolutely vicious on the outside!’
      • ‘But there's a second kind of criticism that says the political run-up to this thing was pretty ugly.’
      • ‘Since then, I have noticed that democracy isn't always pretty and capitalism can be downright ugly.’
      • ‘There is nobody more ugly than a violent wing nut embracing his victimhood.’
      • ‘That's the ugly reality behind the intellectual justifications of realpolitik.’
      • ‘To hear him speak is a sobering reminder of the ugly scars left behind by apartheid.’
      • ‘But the offer is vetoed by Finn, who alone sees the ugly fascist behind The Man's smooth mask of respectability.’
      horrible, unpleasant, disagreeable, despicable, reprehensible, nasty, horrid, appalling, objectionable, offensive, obnoxious, foul, vile, base, dishonourable, dishonest, rotten, vicious, spiteful, malevolent, evil, wicked
      View synonyms



/ˈəɡlē/ /ˈəɡli/


Middle English from Old Norse uggligr ‘to be dreaded’, from ugga ‘to dread’.