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abysm +‎ -al


  • IPA(key): /əˈbɪz.məl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪzməl


abysmal (comparative more abysmal, superlative most abysmal)

  1. (now rare) Pertaining to, or resembling an abyss. [First attested in the mid 17th century.][1]
    Synonyms: unending, profound, fathomless, immeasurable
    • 1851, Thomas Carlyle, The Life of John Sterling
      The latter [geology] gives one the same sort of bewildering view of the abysmal extent of Time that Astronomy does of Space. [First attested in the early 19th century.][1]}}
  2. (figuratively) extremely bad; terrible.
    • 2012 June 9, Owen Phillips, “Euro 2012: Netherlands 0-1 Denmark”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Robben curled an effort against the foot of the post from the edge of the box after being gifted the ball by an abysmal clearance from keeper Stephan Andersen.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Nouns to which "abysmal" is often applied: ignorance, record, performance, poverty, conditions, quality, perplexity, result, service, and failure.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002) , “abysmal”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 11

Further reading[edit]




abysmal (plural abysmaes, comparable)

  1. Obsolete spelling of abismal