Definition of enormity in English:

enormity

Line breaks: enor|mity
Pronunciation: /ɪˈnɔːmɪti
 
/

noun (plural enormities)

  • 1 [mass noun] (the enormity of) The great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something perceived as bad or morally wrong: a thorough search disclosed the full enormity of the crime
    More example sentences
    • The full enormity of the tragedy has now emerged, and large sums of money have been pledged.
    • This because the horror, the scale, the quantitative enormity and ‘serial’ nature of the crimes had exceeded any individual legal responsibility.
    • Even as the full enormity of the attack continued to sink in, Nato and the UN Security Council were falling in behind the US line.
  • 1.1(In neutral use) large size or scale: I began to get a sense of the enormity of the task
    More example sentences
    • The Government has not grasped the full enormity of what is happening to this industry.
    • With the multi-million euro shopping centre at its Shandon location now in full swing the enormity of its benefit to the overall economy of the town can hardly be overstated.
    • At this stage I have not had the opportunity to review the draft plan at the Council chambers so do not know the full enormity of the plan.
    Synonyms

Origin

late Middle English: via Old French from Latin enormitas, from enormis, from e- (variant of ex-) 'out of' + norma 'pattern, standard'. The word originally meant 'deviation from legal or moral rectitude' and 'transgression'. Current senses have been influenced by enormous.

Usage

Enormity traditionally means ‘the extreme scale or seriousness of something bad or morally wrong’, as in residents of the town were struggling to deal with the enormity of the crime . Today, however, a more neutral sense as a synonym for hugeness or immensity, as in he soon discovered the enormity of the task , is common. Some people regard this use as wrong, arguing that enormity in its original sense meant ‘a crime’ and should therefore continue to be used only of contexts in which a negative moral judgement is implied. Nevertheless, the sense is now broadly accepted in standard English, although it generally relates to something difficult, such as a task, challenge, or achievement.

More definitions of enormity

Definition of enormity in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day grotesquerie
Pronunciation: grəʊˈtɛskəri
noun
grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively