Etymology
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awful (adj.)

14世纪, agheful “值得尊敬或恐惧, 令人敬畏; 引起恐惧”, 来自 aghe, 是 awe (n.) 的早期形式, + -ful. 古英语单词是 egefull. 弱化意义上的“非常糟糕” 是从1809年开始的; 弱化意义上的“过分, 非常大” 是到1818年. 以前偶尔用在“深刻崇敬” 的意义上(1590年代).

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Definitions of awful
1
awful (adj.)
causing fear or dread or terror;
an awful risk
the awful war
Synonyms: dire / direful / dread / dreaded / dreadful / fearful / fearsome / frightening / horrendous / horrific / terrible
awful (adj.)
exceptionally bad or displeasing;
an awful voice
awful (adj.)
inspired by a feeling of fearful wonderment or reverence;
awful worshippers with bowed heads
Synonyms: awed
awful (adj.)
extreme in degree or extent or amount or impact;
awful (adj.)
inspiring awe or admiration or wonder; "this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath"- Melville;
Synonyms: amazing / awe-inspiring / awesome / awing
awful (adj.)
offensive or even (of persons) malicious; "Will he say nasty things at my funeral?"- Ezra Pound;
Synonyms: nasty
2
awful (adv.)
used as intensifiers;
I'm awful sorry
Synonyms: terribly / awfully / frightfully
From wordnet.princeton.edu