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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English agheful, awfull, auful, aȝefull, equivalent to awe +‎ -ful. Compare Old English eġeful, eġefull (terrifying; awful).



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

  1. Very bad.
    My socks smell awful.
    We saw such an awful film last night that we left the theater before the end.
  2. Exceedingly great; usually applied intensively.
    an awful bonnet
    I have learnt an awful amount today.
  3. (now dated) Causing fear or horror; appalling, terrible.
    • 1839, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Schalken the Painter
      There was an air of gravity and importance about the garb of the person, and something indescribably odd, I might say awful, in the perfect, stonelike stillness of the figure, that effectually checked the testy comment which had at once risen to the lips of the irritated artist.
  4. (now rare) Inspiring awe; filling with profound reverence or respect; profoundly impressive.
  5. (now rare) Struck or filled with awe.
  6. (obsolete) Terror-stricken.
  7. Worshipful; reverential; law-abiding.


Derived terms[edit]


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.


awful (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Awfully; dreadfully; terribly.
    • 1933 January 21, The Sydney Sportsman, page 1:
      The race was run, and the dog ran "awful".
  2. (colloquial, US, Canada) Very, extremely.
    That's an awful big house.
    She seemed awful nice when I met her yesterday.
    He was blubbering away something awful.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]