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[fi-nom-uh-nl] /fɪˈnɒm ə nl/
highly extraordinary or prodigious; exceptional:
phenomenal speed.
of or relating to phenomena.
of the nature of a phenomenon; cognizable by the senses.
Origin of phenomenal
First recorded in 1815-25; phenomen(on) + -al1
Related forms
phenomenality, noun
phenomenally, adverb
nonphenomenal, adjective
nonphenomenally, adverb
semiphenomenal, adjective
semiphenomenally, adverb
unphenomenal, adjective
unphenomenally, adverb
Can be confused
phenomena, phenomenal, phenomenon (see usage note at phenomenon)
1. uncommon, outstanding, surpassing, unprecedented. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for phenomenal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The phenomenal increase is partly explained by the success of his poems.

  • It is a poor rule, they may say, that has no exceptions in phenomenal manifestation.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • "I'm the 'phenomenal Trapezist,'" announced the lad, solemnly.

  • Nor have they ever been answered, nor can they be answered by any one else who separates the phenomenal from the real.

    Parmenides Plato
  • The number of horses he kept, and the miles he covered with them, were phenomenal in my mind.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
British Dictionary definitions for phenomenal


of or relating to a phenomenon
extraordinary; outstanding; remarkable: a phenomenal achievement
(philosophy) known or perceived by the senses rather than the mind
Derived Forms
phenomenally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for phenomenal

1803, "of the nature of a phenomenon," a hybrid from phenomenon + -al (1). Meaning "remarkable, exceptional" is from 1850.

[Phenomenal] is a metaphysical term with a use of its own. To divert it from this proper use to a job for which it is not needed, by making it do duty for remarkable, extraordinary, or prodigious, is a sin against the English language. [Fowler]
Related: Phenomenally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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