highly extraordinary or prodigious; exceptional: phenomenal speed.
of or relating to phenomena.
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)

Synonyms for phenomenal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phenomenal

Contemporary Examples of phenomenal

Historical Examples of phenomenal

  • The phenomenal increase is partly explained by the success of his poems.

  • It is a poor rule, they may say, that has no exceptions in phenomenal manifestation.

  • "I'm the 'Phenomenal Trapezist,'" announced the lad, solemnly.

  • Nor have they ever been answered, nor can they be answered by any one else who separates the phenomenal from the real.

  • The number of horses he kept, and the miles he covered with them, were phenomenal in my mind.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

British Dictionary definitions for phenomenal



of or relating to a phenomenon
extraordinary; outstanding; remarkablea phenomenal achievement
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 phenomenal

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