The latin root of the word egregious is grex meaning flock which is also the root of many other English words that deal with groups or "flocks" (usually of people): aggregate, congregate, segregate, gregarious...

But I don't see how the definition of egregious has anything to do with a flock or group.

egregious [ih-gree-juh s] adjective

  1. extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant: an egregious mistake; an egregious liar.
  2. Archaic. distinguished or eminent.
  • 3
    If you are e (ex) anything, you are out of it: if you are outside the flock, you stand out. Like an egregious mistooken. Hm.
    – Lambie
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:24
  • @Lambie yeah makes sense. I didn't realize that the "e" part of the word implied "ex".
    – sanpaco
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


Egregious (adj)

  • 1530s, "distinguished, eminent, excellent," from Latin egregius "distinguished, excellent, extraordinary," from the phrase ex grege "rising above the flock," from ex "out of" (see ex-) + grege, ablative of grex "a herd, flock"

Disapproving sense, now predominant, arose late 16c., originally ironic. It is not in the Latin word, which etymologically means simply "exceptional."


  • 1
    tall poppies come to mind...
    – Dan
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:31
  • 1
    the OED retains egregious with a positive sense of exceptionality.
    – Dan
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:37

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