Definition of dreadful in English:



  • 1Causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious.

    ‘there's been a dreadful accident’
    • ‘As a youngster I had a dreadful fear of ghost stories and things that go bump in the night.’
    • ‘This was a most dreadful and unfortunate accident that will continue to have very serious consequences for the claimant.’
    • ‘At first the family thought the fire must have been some dreadful accident.’
    • ‘There are thousands of unlicensed vehicles on the roads, thousands of motorists who drive unsafely and thousands of dreadful accidents as a consequence.’
    • ‘They were onto the danger of losing her to the streets or to some dreadful accident.’
    • ‘They upset one woman because they had made her fear a dreadful death through drowning.’
    • ‘At worst, it could have led to a dreadful accident in which not only animals, but also people could have been killed.’
    • ‘The dreadful suffering endured by those addicted to the drugs, the ruin of lives which should be useful, do not constitute the whole of the evil, for the ills spread to their families.’
    • ‘The dreadful accident at Straboe at Christmas 1944 in which a post official was fatally injured and vast numbers of livestock killed is also contained in the book.’
    • ‘If there is a God I hope that he takes me first then I can go with a contented mind knowing that she did not suffer this dreadful disease any longer.’
    • ‘It looked like a dreadful accident had happened.’
    • ‘He felt a dreadful fear grip him as he walked hurriedly towards his son’
    • ‘At worst, the dreadful suffering they cause is not their own.’
    • ‘He adduces several wartime and postwar writers who veer away from addressing the German civilians' dreadful suffering.’
    • ‘He does not control the source of the danger, but he has control of the means to avert a dreadful accident.’
    • ‘How do you reconcile the dreadful suffering and loss of life caused by the tsunami in South East Asia with the idea of a loving God?’
    • ‘Is this a blessing for her or a dreadful accident of history?’
    • ‘To do so, our motorcycle must be safe for riding so as not to invite dreadful collisions and accidents.’
    • ‘That was undoubtedly the worst period of my life, made even more dreadful by a growing fear that it would never end, and my life would be ruined.’
    • ‘‘Nevertheless it was a serious attack, with dreadful injuries and that of course is something he regrets immensely,’ she said.’
    terrible, frightful, horrible, grim, awful, dire
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Extremely disagreeable.
      ‘the weather was dreadful’
      • ‘Talking of lunch, NPI once bought me a dreadful lunch at an awful restaurant.’
      • ‘But I have to say, I did fast forward through that dreadful speech by the odious brother and through the drippy prayers from the drippy archbish.’
      • ‘‘As far as their understanding would go they would see it as possibly disgraceful and downright dreadful behaviour,’ he said.’
      • ‘The defensive-zone coverage is awful, and the power play is dreadful.’
      • ‘The majority are prepared to take this moral holiday but it won't look good in the history books and it sure as hell looks dreadful from this end of the planet.’
      • ‘Every now and then, a film comes along that is so remarkably bad, so insanely dreadful, so utterly rotten that it actually makes you appreciate it.’
      • ‘I had an awful night in Berlin where the track was dreadful.’
      • ‘Who says the admission to some other sports are any better value than the often dreadful rubbish served up in some of the GAA's National Leagues fixtures.’
      • ‘This week's printed issue is a disaster: the paper is poor, the production cheap, the layout dreadful and migraine inducing.’
      • ‘I admit he has dreadful teeth, is skinny as hell and well fulfills the term ‘geek’ with his straggly hair.’
      • ‘I won't tell what horrors I have heard, what frightful music, what dreadful performances and insipid music making.’
      • ‘It was a sunny day this morning until those dreadful clouds came and that poor sun did not shine no more.’
      • ‘The sound quality is disgraceful, the image blurry and the editing dreadful.’
      • ‘It didn't become a follow-up type record where you just start writing about having a good time on the road or that kind of dreadful watered-down rubbish.’
      • ‘A dreadful mismatch and a very poor advertisement for the women's game, it was hardly that different to 95% of men's fights these days.’
      • ‘Then why are they feeding them rotten, frightening, dreadful food for their minds and souls?’
      • ‘Watsonians should have notched up three tries in the first five minutes thanks to poor cover, dreadful kicking and incompetence from the visitors.’
      • ‘I saw him on a show, a dreadful show, and everybody - it was awful.’
      • ‘Not only does it look awful but it smells dreadful.’
      • ‘Perhaps the worst example was an American writer in Budapest who wrote dreadful poems lamenting the arrival of fast food restaurants.’
      unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a person) unwell or troubled.
      ‘I feel dreadful—I hate myself’
      ‘she looked quite dreadful and she was struggling for breath’
      • ‘I feel suitably dreadful today, and have only just lolled out of bed.’
      • ‘I've got a terrible codeine hangover and I feel dreadful.’
      unwell, ill, poorly, bad, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out
      View synonyms
  • 2attributive Used to emphasize the degree to which something is the case, especially something regarded with sadness or disapproval.

    ‘this was all a dreadful mistake’
    ‘you're a dreadful flirt’
    • ‘Man might think that he's the most intelligent life form on earth but this is simply a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘It has been widely denounced as a dreadful, expensive mistake, the very nadir of reality television… all of which is true, but what's your point?’
    • ‘Most people are in terror of spending their money for what might turn out to be a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘They're saying it was a group of rogue scientists making a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘Mistakes, some of them dreadful, were certainly made.’
    • ‘Flattered by Gabriel's dreadful mistake, she accepted his beer.’
    • ‘After returning from Ireland and trying to forget about my dreadful mistake I found another person to throw my unrequited passion at.’
    • ‘We made these dreadful mistakes, we didn't realise what was to come.’
    • ‘Two years ago, I made the dreadful mistake of deciding with a long-term boyfriend that we would eat with his family that year, and mine the next.’
    • ‘Cori, however, sees all of this as a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘There may come to us some shattering calamity or dreadful disappointment or some moral failure.’
    • ‘The win was more meritorious as at the final fence on the penultimate circuit the leader made a dreadful mistake and even Aaron didn't know how he remained in the saddle.’
    • ‘These people have been locked up with a load of hardcore criminals for who knows how long because someone made a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘We headed towards the Manacles, and I began to suspect that I had made a dreadful mistake when I climbed back into the boat.’
    • ‘Six weeks on from the dreadful mistake which has left Miss Innes in a coma, her friends and family are awaiting the outcome of the hospital's own internal investigation and inquiries by the family lawyer.’
    • ‘Several days into his holiday on the sun-kissed isle of Thassos, desperation for his favourite meal led him to make a dreadful mistake he won't forget in a hurry.’
    • ‘On the contrary, it would have seemed an admission that our spheres and years divided us and that we were making a dreadful mistake.’
    • ‘Pressure can tell on the players and, when we made that dreadful mistake for their first goal, the pressure was almighty.’
    • ‘Paul Begley made a dreadful mistake for the first when he came out to a hopping ball and let it over his head to the waiting Mattie Forde and the Wexford ace just needs a half chance.’
    • ‘The probability of dreadful misunderstanding is enormous.’
    outrageous, shocking
    View synonyms