c. 1300, agheful "worthy of respect or fear, striking with awe; causing dread," from aghe, an earlier form of awe (n.), + -ful. The Old English word was egefull. Weakened sense "very bad" is from 1809; weakened sense of "excessively, very great" is by 1818. It formerly was occasionally used in a sense "profoundly reverential" (1590s).
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