American English

Definition of awful adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(informal) very bad or unpleasant That's an awful color. “They didn't even offer to pay.” “Oh, that's awful.” It's awful, isn't it? The weather last summer was awful. I feel awful about forgetting her birthday. to look/feel awful (= to look/feel sick) There's an awful smell in here. The awful thing is, it was my fault. 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
  2. 2(informal) used to emphasize something, especially that there is a large amount or too much of something It's going to cost an awful lot of money. There's not an awful lot of room. I feel an awful lot better than I did yesterday.
  3. 3very shocking synonym terrible the awful horrors of war
  4. awfulness noun [uncountable]
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  5. the sheer awfulness of the situation
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: awful

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