solemnly impressive; inspiring awe:the awful majesty of alpine peaks.
full of awe; reverential.
extremely dangerous, risky, injurious, etc.:That was an awful fall she had. He took an awful chance by driving here so fast.
[Informal.]very; extremely:He did an awful good job of painting the barn. It's awful hot in here.
1200–50; Middle English a(g)heful, aueful; see awe, -ful; replacing Old English egefull dreadful
Although some object to any use of awful or awfully in any sense not connected with a feeling of awe, both have been used in other senses for several centuries. Awful and awfully as adverbial intensifiers —awful (ly) hot; awful (ly) cold--appear in the early 19th century, following much the same pattern ashorribly anddreadfully. As an adverb awful is less formal in tone than awfully. In the sense "inspiring awe or fear'' awesome has largely replaced awful.