What are the origins of the word "terrible". Do the words "terror" or "terrific" come from the same roots?
I am curious since I believe the word "terrible" can be used to mean "great" in French.
closed as off-topic by sumelic, Mari-Lou A, FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, Hellion Aug 11 '15 at 20:26
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Both terrible and terrific go back, through French and Latin to Proto Indo European roots meaning to shiver. The origin is self explanatory: extreme fear being well known to provoke shivering.
To these two you can therefore add tremor and tremble.
In English "terrible" and "terrific" are antonyms. Terrific means exceptionally good and on the contrary, terrible means exceptionally bad.
In French however, terrific does not exist and terrible has both significations. Only the context, common sense or the status of the speaker will tell you which meaning to choose from.
If one says "c'est pas terrible", that will mean below average. If a youngster says "this singer is terrible", that has to be understood as appreciative.
In "Ivan le terrible" though, the meaning is obviously not "the Great".
So, both come from the same Latin verb.
To go even further, though it's off topic, the French terrible to mean “great” was very used in the language of les précieuses. The TLF calls this informal, though: “Fam. [Empl. comme intensif; avec valeur méliorative] Sensationnel, extraordinaire, propre à susciter l'admiration.” (Informal [Intensifier, meliorative] Sensational, outstanding, worthy of admiration.)