[ dred-fuhl ]
/ ˈdrɛd fəl /


causing great dread, fear, or terror; terrible: a dreadful storm.
inspiring awe or reverence.
extremely bad, unpleasant, or ugly: dreadful cooking; a dreadful hat.

noun British.

a periodical given to highly sensational matter.

Nearby words

  1. drayton, michael,
  2. drch.,
  3. dre,
  4. dread,
  5. dreaded,
  6. dreadfully,
  7. dreadlocks,
  8. dreadnought,
  9. dreads,
  10. dream

Origin of dreadful

First recorded in 1175–1225, dreadful is from the Middle English word dredful. See dread, -ful

Related formsdread·ful·ness, nounqua·si-dread·ful, adjectivequa·si-dread·ful·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dreadful

British Dictionary definitions for dreadful


/ (ˈdrɛdfʊl) /


extremely disagreeable, shocking, or badwhat a dreadful play
(intensifier)this is a dreadful waste of time
causing dread; terrifying
archaic inspiring awe
Derived Formsdreadfulness, noun

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 dreadful



early 13c., "full of dread," from dread (n.) + -ful. Meaning "causing dread" is from mid-13c.; weakened sense of "very bad" is from c.1700. Related: Dreadfully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper