awful

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From awe +‎ -ful.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

awful (comparative awfuller or more awful, superlative awfullest or most awful)

  1. Oppressing with fear or horror; appalling, terrible.
  2. (now rare) Inspiring awe; filling with profound reverence or respect; profoundly impressive.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I.56:
      God ought not to be commixed in our actions, but with awful reverence, and an attention full of honour and respect.
    • 1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, II.143:
      And then she stopped, and stood as if in awe / (For sleep is awful) [].
  3. Struck or filled with awe.
  4. (obsolete) Terror-stricken.
  5. Worshipful; reverential; law-abiding.
  6. Exceedingly great; usually applied intensively.
    an awful bonnet
    I have learnt an awful amount today.
  7. Very bad.
    My socks smell awful.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Nouns to which "awful" is often applied: day, truth, time, place, moment, mess, night, news, state, situation, smell, thought, person, pain, movie, consequence, crime, fate, death, tragedy, man, event, disease, story, condition, mistake, taste, picture, year, calamity, doom, film, catastrophe, secret, performance, storm, end, week, shape, choice.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

  1. Oppressing with fear or horror; appalling, terrible.
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Adverb[edit]

awful (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Very, extremely; as, an awful big house.

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]