- very bad; unpleasant
- archaic inspiring reverence or dread
- archaic overcome with awe; reverential
- not standard (intensifier): an awful cold day
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WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
aw•ful /ˈɔfəl/USA pronunciation adj.WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2015
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
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