Definition of abysmal in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈbɪzm(ə)l/


1Extremely bad; appalling: the quality of her work is abysmal
More example sentences
  • My summing up of her abysmal and shameful performance is written below.
  • Since the demise of the Catch Me Com buses the No 4 Highercroft route has degenerated from poor to absolutely abysmal.
  • I don't know, but I am sure that anonymity plays its part when these abysmal and frighteningly stupid people decide to view this stuff.
very bad, dreadful, awful, terrible, frightful, atrocious, disgraceful, deplorable, shameful, woeful, hopeless, lamentable, laughable, substandard, poor, inadequate, inferior, unsatisfactory
informal rotten, appalling, crummy, pathetic, pitiful, useless, lousy, shocking, dire, poxy, the pits
British informal duff, chronic, a load of pants, pants
North American vulgar slang chickenshit
2 literary Very deep: waterfalls that plunge into abysmal depths
More example sentences
  • Will computers close the final gap, and find in their own depths, abysmal or otherwise, an instinctual feel for the wrong move at the right time?
  • He yawned widely; from the depths of the abysmal abyss stretching beyond his throat emerged his tongue.
  • He wore a deep green robe and had the same black abysmal eyes as Mrs. Flockhart.
profound, extreme, utter, complete, thorough, deep, endless, immeasurable, boundless, incalculable, unfathomable, bottomless


Mid 17th century (used literally as in sense 2): from abysm. sense 1 dates from the early 19th century.

  • The original literal sense of abysmal was ‘very deep’, and people did not start using it to describe something utterly appalling, ‘the pits’, until the beginning of the early 19th century. The word shares a source with abyss (Late Middle English) Greek abussos ‘bottomless’.

Words that rhyme with abysmal

baptismal, catechismal, dismal, paroxysmal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: abys|mal

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