Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

awful

 - definition
 
 
Close

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
adjective American English pronunciation: awful /ˈɔf(ə)l/

Related dictionary definitions

  1. 1
    used for emphasizing how unpleasant someone or something is

    The smell was absolutely awful.

    This wine tastes awful.

    He had the awful feeling that everyone was laughing at him.

    These awful people behind us talked all through the movie.

    1. a.
      very bad at doing something

      I'm awful at remembering names.

      He's an awful actor.

    2. b.
      very cruel or unkind

      That's an awful thing to say.

      They committed the most awful atrocities.

    3. c.
      very serious or severe

      I was worried that something awful had happened to him.

  2. 2
    complete: used for emphasizing a particular quality

    I made an awful fool of myself last night, didn't I?

    It's an awful shame to waste all this good food.

phrases

derived word

awfulness

noun [uncountable]

Word of the Day

chocolate

a sweet brown food eaten as a sweet or used for flavouring other food

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog