Definition of direful in US English:



literary, archaic
  • Extremely bad; dreadful.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The resultant blur is an emblem of the paranoid experience, a concurrence of simultaneous direful events.’
    • ‘Dark, direful clouds floated overhead, threatening to release a downpour of rain at any moment, so the park was void of visitors.’
    • ‘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.’
    terrible, dreadful, appalling, frightful, awful, horrible, atrocious, grim, unspeakable, distressing, harrowing, alarming, shocking, outrageous
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Late 16th century: from dire + -ful.