English

Definition of dreadful adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    dreadful

     adjective
    adjective
    BrE BrE//ˈdredfl//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdredfl//
     
    (especially British English) Fear
     
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  1. 1very bad or unpleasant What dreadful weather! What a dreadful thing to say! It's dreadful the way they treat their staff. How dreadful! Jane looked dreadful (= looked ill or tired). Synonymsterribleawful horrible dreadful vile 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 (rather 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 colour. The weather last summer was awful.horrible (rather informal) very unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like:The coffee tasted horrible.dreadful (rather informal, especially British English) very bad or unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like or that you disapprove of:What dreadful weather!vile (informal) extremely bad or unpleasant:There was a vile smell coming from the room. He was in a vile mood.horrendous (rather 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/​vile thing a(n) terrible/​awful/​horrible/​vile smell terrible/​awful/​horrible/​dreadful/​vile/​horrendous conditions terrible/​awful/​horrible/​dreadful/​vile weather terrible/​awful/​dreadful news
  2. 2[only before noun] used to emphasize how bad something is synonym terrible He’s a dreadful snob. She's making a dreadful mess of things. I'm afraid there's been a dreadful mistake.
  3. 3[usually before noun] causing fear or suffering synonym terrible a dreadful accident They suffered dreadful injuries. See related entries: Fear
  4. Extra examples It must have been dreadful for you! Poor thing! You look absolutely dreadful! To be honest, her singing was quite dreadful. a truly dreadful hat He’s a dreadful snob. It’s dreadful the way they treat their employees. She’s making a dreadful mess of things. There’s been a dreadful accident.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: dreadful