noun pl. ug·lies Informal
- Displeasing to the eye; unsightly.
a. Repulsive or offensive; objectionable: an ugly remark.
b. Chiefly Southern U.S. Rude: Don't be ugly with me.
c. New England Unmanageable. Used of animals, especially cows or horses.
- Morally reprehensible; bad.
- Threatening or ominous: ugly black clouds.
a. Likely to cause embarrassment or trouble: “Public opinion in both nations could take an ugly turn” (George R. Packard).
b. Marked by or inclined to anger or bad feelings; disagreeable: an ugly temper; an ugly scene.
One that is ugly.
Origin: Middle English, frightful, repulsive
Origin: , from Old Norse uggligr
Origin: , from uggr, fear
Related Forms: Regional Note:
The standard sense of the adjective ugly
becomes figurative in the common expression an ugly temper.
Regional American speech shares this figurative sense and makes it even more specific. In New England ugly
as applied to animals, especially large farm animals such as cows and horses, means “balky, hard to manage.” In the South, on the other hand, ugly
with the specific sense of “rude” is used of persons: Don't be ugly, son.
Interestingly, the word clever
(senses 4 through 6) follows the same regional pattern as ugly
: in New England the specialized senses refer to animals; in the South, to persons.