abys·​mal | \ə-ˈbiz-məl, a-\

Definition of abysmal 

1a : immeasurably low or wretched : extremely poor or bad abysmal ignorance/poverty abysmal living conditions an abysmal performance

b : having immense or fathomless extension downward, backward, or inward an abysmal cliff

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Other Words from abysmal

abysmally \-​mə-​lē \ adverb
abysmally ignorant an abysmally poor performance

Synonyms & Antonyms for abysmal


bottomless, deep, profound


shallow, shoal, skin-deep, superficial, surface

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Examples of abysmal in a Sentence

They were living in abysmal ignorance. a desperate cry echoing from the abysmal reaches of the cave

Recent Examples on the Web

Currently, the president’s average approval rating is an abysmal 39%. Danielle Campoamor, Teen Vogue, "The New York Times’ Anonymous Op-Ed Writer Isn’t Helping Anyone," 7 Sep. 2018 Employees of the agency also kidnapped suspects and took them to third countries, where interrogations were outsourced to foreign intelligence services with abysmal human-rights records. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Spy Who Came Home," 30 Apr. 2018 Traffic was abysmal at this year’s Monterey Car Week. Tamara Warren, The Verge, "Monterey Car Week is where the past and future of automobiles collide," 29 Aug. 2018 Conditions in these camps are abysmal: The Rohingya live in constant fear, are not allowed to practice their faith, and are barred from receiving humanitarian aid. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Action against the “murderous operation” in Myanmar," 25 Aug. 2018 Harvey’s Mets obit, courtesy of The Ringer, included this: His performance in recent years — a terrible 2016, an abysmal 2017, and a desultory 2018 — has seemed a fait accompli. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc: Is who the Reds have now better than who they've dumped?," 8 May 2018 The Colts' snow removal, which helped force overtime but not ensure a Colts win in abysmal conditions, wasn't penalized because in that moment all that was violated was game operations policy. Jordan Guskey, Indianapolis Star, "NFL rule to penalize teams for moves similar to Indianapolis Colts' in snowy Buffalo," 7 July 2018 After Hassan Whiteside's abysmal postseason, nobody is actively pursuing him and his contract. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Should Heat offseason goal be to thin the rotation?," 29 June 2018 Milwaukee Bucks, Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech, 6-5, 19 Guards Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon had abysmal postseasons. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Mavs get two picks in the top 5? Let us explain," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abysmal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abysmal

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for abysmal

abysm + -al entry 1

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Statistics for abysmal

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abysmal

The first known use of abysmal was circa 1656

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More Definitions for abysmal


abys·​mal | \ə-ˈbiz-məl \

Kids Definition of abysmal

: extremely bad an abysmal report card

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More from Merriam-Webster on abysmal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abysmal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abysmal

Spanish Central: Translation of abysmal

Nglish: Translation of abysmal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abysmal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on abysmal

What made you want to look up abysmal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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