- 1 [usually before noun] causing fear or suffering synonym terrible a dreadful accident They suffered dreadful injuries.
- 2 very bad or unpleasant What a dreadful thing to say! It's dreadful the way they treat their staff. How dreadful! Jane looked dreadful (= looked sick or tired). Thesaurusterribleawful horrible dreadful foul horrendousThese words all describe something that is very unpleasant.terrible very bad or unpleasant; making you feel unhappy, frightened, upset, ill, guilty, or disapproving:What terrible news! That's a terrible thing to say!awful (somewhat informal) very bad or unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like or that makes you feel depressed, ill, guilty, or disapproving:That's an awful color. The weather last summer was awful.horrible (somewhat informal) very unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like:The coffee tasted horrible.dreadful (somewhat informal) very bad or unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like or that you disapprove of:My schedule is dreadful this week.foul extremely bad or unpleasant:A foul odor came from the kitchen. He was in a foul mood.horrendous (somewhat informal) extremely unpleasant and unacceptable:The traffic around the city was horrendous.Patterns terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful for somebody a(n) terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/foul thing a(n) terrible/awful/horrible/foul smell terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/vile/horrendous conditions terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/foul weather terrible/awful/dreadful news
- 3 [only before noun] used to emphasize how bad something is synonym terrible She's making a dreadful mess of things. I'm afraid there's been a dreadful mistake.