Meaning of “awful” in the English Dictionary

"awful" in British English

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uk /ˈɔː.fəl/ us /ˈɑː.fəl/

awful adjective (BAD)

A2 extremely bad or unpleasant:

He suffered awful injuries in the crash.
We had awful weather.
She has an awful boss.
What an awful thing to say!
Would life be so awful without a car?
The food was awful.
She'd been ill and she looked awful.

More examples

  • If the party is awful, we can always leave .
  • The hotel was awful! To begin with, our room was far too small.
  • The awful spectre of civil war looms over the country.
  • It's a good job they didn't go camping last weekend - the weather was awful.
  • They live downwind of a pig-farm and sometimes the smell is awful.

awful adjective (VERY GREAT)

B2 [ before noun ] very great:

I don't know an awful lot (= very much) about art, but I'm learning.
Fortunately it won't make an awful lot of difference if I don't pass the test.
It was an awful risk to take.

More examples

  • There's an awful lot of smut on television these days.
  • There's an awful lot of work to be done.
  • It's an awful bore cooking a meal every night.
  • It takes an awful long time to travel across the city on public transport.
  • I'm feeling an awful lot better, thanks.
noun [ U ] uk /ˈɔː.fəl.nəs/ us /ˈɑː.fəl.nəs/

You can't appreciate the true/sheer awfulness of war until you've actually experienced it.

(Definition of “awful” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"awful" in American English

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us /ˈɔ·fəl/

very bad, unpleasant, or of low quality:

The weather was awful the whole timecold and wet.
Fox TV has canceled the truly awful sitcom "Monty" after a short tryout.

Awful also means very great or large:

We're spending an awful amount of money!


(Definition of “awful” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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