- causing great dread, fear, or terror; terrible: a dreadful storm.
- inspiring awe or reverence.
- extremely bad, unpleasant, or ugly: dreadful cooking; a dreadful hat.
- penny dreadful.
- a periodical given to highly sensational matter.
Origin of dreadful
SynonymsSee more synonyms for dreadful on Thesaurus.com
1. frightful, dire.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for dreadful
He looked, that dreadful afternoon, as if he had just come from his barber, tailor and haberdasher.The Stacks: H.L. Mencken on the 1904 Baltimore Fire
October 4, 2014
In the novel, the moral situation Frances ends up in is dreadful.Sarah Waters: Queen of the Tortured Lesbian Romance
September 30, 2014
Any of the three on its own would have been dreadful enough.American Statesmanship Is Depressingly MIA on Border Kids, MH17 & Gaza
July 21, 2014
As a result, reporting and public expectations suffered a dreadful, anti-climatic slump.Who Gagged the Search for MH370?
June 22, 2014
The job market in philosophy went from awful to dreadful starting in 2008 and has never really recovered.The Cost of Raising a Special Needs Son
June 11, 2014
"I hear they do have dreadful times with help in New York," said Mrs. Bines.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Oh, Colonel, help me to guard against so dreadful a calamity.
It was a dreadful conviction that was forced upon me, and as wonderful as terrible.
My dear, I'm glad and thankful you've done with that dreadful, dangerous game.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
Our father is so good, and it is dreadful to me that Corney won't mind him!Weighed and Wanting
- extremely disagreeable, shocking, or badwhat a dreadful play
- (intensifier)this is a dreadful waste of time
- causing dread; terrifying
- archaic inspiring awe
Word Origin and History for dreadful
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper