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  1. highly extraordinary or prodigious; exceptional: phenomenal speed.
  2. of or relating to phenomena.
  3. of the nature of a phenomenon; cognizable by the senses.

Origin of phenomenal

First recorded in 1815–25; phenomen(on) + -al1
Related formsphe·nom·e·nal·i·ty, nounphe·nom·e·nal·ly, adverbnon·phe·nom·e·nal, adjectivenon·phe·nom·e·nal·ly, adverbsem·i·phe·nom·e·nal, adjectivesem·i·phe·nom·e·nal·ly, adverbun·phe·nom·e·nal, adjectiveun·phe·nom·e·nal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedphenomena phenomenal phenomenon (see usage note at phenomenon)


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1. uncommon, outstanding, surpassing, unprecedented.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for phenomenality


  1. of or relating to a phenomenon
  2. extraordinary; outstanding; remarkablea phenomenal achievement
  3. philosophy known or perceived by the senses rather than the mind
Derived Formsphenomenally, 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

Word Origin and History for phenomenality



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