- such as to cause A frightful howl woke us.; dreadful, terrible, or alarming:
- horrible, shocking, or revolting: The storm did frightful damage.
- Informal. unpleasant; disagreeable: We had a frightful time.
- Informal. very great; extreme: That actor is very talented but a frightful ham.
- very alarming, distressing, or horrifying
- unpleasant, annoying, or extremea frightful hurry
mid-13c., “timid;” c.1600 “alarming;” from -ful adjectives, it once had both an active and passive sense. Meaning “dreadful, horrible, shocking” (often hyperbolic) is attested from c.1700; Johnson noted it as “a cant word among women for anything unpleasing.” Related: Frightfully.+ . In common with most