Did you know?

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

awful - definition and synonyms


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.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective awful pronunciation in American English /ˈɔf(ə)l/
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  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.

derived word



used to describe something which is done more carefully and over a longer period of time …

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the practice of giving birth in the presence of several friends and relatives

add a word


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
Macmillan learn live love play