Word Wednesday.



1 : extremely wicked, brutal, or cruel: Barbaric.

2: Appalling, horrifying.

3a: utterly revolting: abominable. b: of very poor quality.

– atrociously, adverb.

– atrociousness, noun.

[Origin: Latin atroc-, atrox gloomy, atrocious, from atr-, ater black + –oc, –ox.]


“Robespierre had paused briefly to finger his jabot.

I tell you that anyone who is trembling at this moment is guilty. Because innocence never fears the public gaze.

‘That’s atrocious,’ Adamsberg whispered back. ‘The most terrible of all, in my view.'” – A Climate of Fear, Fred Vargas.

As our quote finds us in the time of Robespierre, a bonus phrase: Sneeze into the sack:

“‘Hébert was famous for writing “fuck this” and “fuck that”, ever two lines in the paper, and Gonzalez liked imitating him, they were stirring sessions. “Let those toads in the Plain go and sneeze into the sack,” he would say. Robespierre was very shocked by Hébert’s vulgar language.’

‘Sneeze into the sack?’ asked Adamsberg.

‘A contemporary expression for being sent to the guillotine.'”


  1. rq says

    I like the phrase: “sneeze into the sack”, it’s very descriptive and dismissive, even if you don’t know the allusion to the guillotine.

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