As many dictionaries suggest, the word terrific could mean frightening in some cases Collins Dictionary, however it seems that most of the time it means very great or very good. Now I want to know if a simple sentence like:

He is terrific

could mean He is frightening depending on context and if yes, is it likely to happen in daily conversations?

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    In current usage, "terrific" hardly ever is used to mean "frightening." The dictionary lists this meaning because historically, that was one possible meaning, but if someone says "He is terrific," it means he's great. – Steven Littman Dec 13 '15 at 2:42
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    Yes, someone might use "terrific" in the "terrifying" sense, but they would do so with a bit of irony intended. – Hot Licks Dec 13 '15 at 2:43

In modern English, terrific almost never means frightening. It does indeed come from the same root as "terror" and originally meant "inspiring terror," kind of like "formidable." However, nowadays, it is generally only used to mean "great," etc.

Interestingly enough, the same denotative shift is evident in the word "awesome," whose two possible definitions are almost identical to those of "terrific."

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