Definition of abysmal in English:


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  • 1Extremely bad; appalling.

    ‘the quality of her work is abysmal’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But many schools serving the poor are of such abysmal quality that many children drop out of school in frustration.’
    • ‘The down side is excess weight, poor performance and abysmal gas mileage.’
    • ‘In this budget, the government continues its abysmal record on assisting the world's poorest people.’
    • ‘Certainly the abysmal suffering and despair in many poor countries should cause us sickening guilt.’
    • ‘For all the insensitivity of this mistake, it represents the abysmal lack of knowledge about the Baltics in the minds of many a Westerner.’
    • ‘And one reason it's not been achieved is the abysmal lack of planning for an aftermath which was violent.’
    • ‘The research will be carried out in Glasgow, where the handing out of statins is most likely to happen, because of the city's abysmal heart attack record.’
    • ‘If an abysmal new series sneaks on to the schedules without provoking an outburst from us, it can trundle through its six-week schedule unscathed.’
    • ‘I've often wondered how they could get away with some of the cooking programmes that are on TV, considering how abysmal the hygiene shown is.’
    • ‘And he's so far not lived up to any single commitment that he's made, which is a pretty abysmal record.’
    • ‘Happily, their plugs are configured differently or I would have fried my laptop in my abysmal ignorance.’
    • ‘Yet, even though official statistics reveal this abysmal state of affairs, what is the Government's response?’
    • ‘York University had an abysmal five per cent turnout, in part because in the previous year they hadn't had an election.’
    • ‘There was no denying Ballylinan's superiority as they completely overshadowed an abysmal Rock performance.’
    • ‘Despite throwing his hat in the ring for almost every job in the next three years, the best he could get was a brief, abysmal spell at Bradford City.’
    • ‘Carlow's league campaign has descended from early promise to an abysmal second half display against Wexford last time out.’
    • ‘Sadly, it was an abysmal offer, some £25,000 below the asking price!’
    very bad, dreadful, awful, terrible, frightful, atrocious, disgraceful, deplorable, shameful, woeful, hopeless, lamentable, laughable, substandard, poor, inadequate, inferior, unsatisfactory
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  • 2 literary Very deep.

    ‘waterfalls that plunge into abysmal depths’
    • ‘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
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/əˈbizm(ə)l/ /əˈbɪzm(ə)l/


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