WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
aw•ful /ˈɔfəl/USA pronunciation   adj. 
  1. extremely bad;
    disagreeable:the awful smell of gas.
  2. causing shock or fear;
    terrible:an awful accident.
  3. Informal. very great:[before a noun]knows an awful lot about art.

  1. Informal TermsInformal. very;
    awfully: It's awful hot in here.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
aw•ful  fəl),USA pronunciation adj. 
  1. extremely bad;
    ugly:awful paintings; an awful job.
  2. inspiring fear;
    terrible:an awful noise.
  3. solemnly impressive;
    inspiring awe:the awful majesty of alpine peaks.
  4. full of awe;
  5. extremely dangerous, risky, injurious, etc.:That was an awful fall she had. He took an awful chance by driving here so fast.

  1. [Informal.]very;
    extremely:He did an awful good job of painting the barn. It's awful hot in here.
awful•ness, n. 
  • 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.

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

awful /ˈɔːfʊl/ adj
  1. very bad; unpleasant
  2. archaic inspiring reverence or dread
  3. archaic overcome with awe; reverential
  1. not standard (intensifier): an awful cold day
Etymology: 13th Century: see awe, -ful

ˈawfulness n

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