phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"things turned ugly"

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 27, 2005

In Reply to: "Things turned ugly" posted by Don Shamus on June 27, 2005

: question: I'm curious about the phrase "things turned ugly". It's fairly clear in describing when a situation changes from good to bad but... does anyone know where it stems from?

"Ugly" comes from Norse "ugga" meaning "fear" and originally meant "fearsome, frightening" (there was an alternative form "ugsome" in Middle English). This meaning lingers on in phrases like "ugly customer", "ugly situation".