One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Extremely bad; dreadful.
terrible, dreadful, appalling, frightful, awful, horrible, atrocious, grim, unspeakable, distressing, harrowing, alarming, shocking, outrageousView synonyms
- ‘From classical times, too, we have the phrase ‘deus ex machina’ to describe those dramas in which a hideously direful circumstance is abruptly set to rights through the intercession of some benevolent god or other.’
- ‘Dark, direful clouds floated overhead, threatening to release a downpour of rain at any moment, so the park was void of visitors.’
- ‘The resultant blur is an emblem of the paranoid experience, a concurrence of simultaneous direful events.’
- ‘The war wages on and the winter is hard, but in these most direful moments I draw warmth from the fond memories I hold of you.’
- ‘Indeed, he is reaching down to that best-known of lieder Schubert published as his Opus 1, and reanimating, in his kaleidoscopic way, the direful night-time gallop of a father and son pursued by a pure demonic force.’
Late 16th century: from dire + -ful.
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