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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English ferful, fervol, equivalent to fear +‎ -ful.



fearful (comparative fearfuller or fearfuler or more fearful, superlative fearfullest or fearfulest or most fearful)

  1. Frightening.
  2. (now rare) Frightened, filled with terror.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.4:
      Those two great champions did attonce pursew / The fearefull damzell with incessant payns [...].
  3. Tending to fear.
    a fearful boy
  4. (dated) Terrible; shockingly bad.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, The Haunted House
      But every day after dinner, for an hour, we were all together, and then the Favourite and the rest of the Royal Hareem competed who should most beguile the leisure of the Serene Haroun reposing from the cares of State — which were generally, as in most affairs of State, of an arithmetical character, the Commander of the Faithful being a fearful boggler at a sum.



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Further reading[edit]