awful (adj.)

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. The weakened sense of "very bad" is by 1809; the weakened sense of "excessively, very great" is by 1818. It formerly also was occasionally used in a sense of "profoundly reverential" (1590s).

updated on October 01, 2022

Definitions of awful from WordNet
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
awful (adv.)
used as intensifiers;
I'm awful sorry
Synonyms: terribly / awfully / frightfully
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.