[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

Examples from the Web for abysmally

Contemporary Examples of abysmally

Historical Examples of abysmally

  • They knew how abysmally hopeless was their chance of accomplishing anything.

  • When he got up, he was physically normal again, but abysmally ashamed.

    Sand Doom

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

  • And all change, to the home-staying heart, can be so abysmally upsetting!

    The Prairie Child

    Arthur Stringer

  • Josè began to feel that they were drifting hopelessly, abysmally apart.

    Carmen Ariza

    Charles Francis Stocking

  • If he hadn't been abysmally lazy, he might have been very good at it.

    Lion Loose

    James H. Schmitz

British Dictionary definitions for abysmally



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 abysmally



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