[uh-biz-muh l]


of or like an abyss; immeasurably deep or great.
extremely or hopelessly bad or severe: abysmal ignorance; abysmal poverty.

Origin of abysmal

First recorded in 1650–60; abysm + -al1
Related formsa·bys·mal·ly, adverbul·tra-a·bys·mal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for abysmal



immeasurable; very greatabysmal stupidity
informal extremely badan abysmal film
Derived Formsabysmally, 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 abysmal

1650s, formed in English from abysm + -al (1). Weakened sense of "extremely bad" is first recorded 1904, perhaps from abysmal ignorance (suggestive of its "depth"), an expression attested from 1847. Related: Abysmally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper