abys·​mal | \ ə-ˈbiz-məl How to pronounce abysmal (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from abysmal

abysmally \ -​mə-​lē How to pronounce abysmally (audio) \ adverb
abysmally ignorant an abysmally poor performance

Synonyms & Antonyms for abysmal


bottomless, deep, profound


shallow, shoal, skin-deep, superficial, surface

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Moreover, early data from the Southern Hemisphere—which can offer a glimpse of what’s to come in the US—suggested that last year’s flu vaccine had an abysmal 10 percent efficacy rate. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Last year’s flu was brutal—killing 80,000—but vaccine did better than expected," 27 Sep. 2018 Despite Matchbook’s own history of failure in two different states, and the abysmal performance of hybrid charters across Indiana, only one board member voted against Matchbook’s takeover of School 63 — Elizabeth Gore. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What’s really going on in Indiana’s public schools," 12 July 2018 But even without a record-breaker or a $100 million movie, the box office is still up by 15.3 percent from last summer's abysmal performance and 9.3 percent for the year overall. NBC News, "'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' is No. 1 at the box office again," 1 July 2018 But even without a record-breaker or a $100 million movie, the box office is still up 15.3 percent from last summer's abysmal performance and 9.3 percent for the year overall. Fox News, "'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' takes No 1. at the box office for the 2nd time," 1 July 2018 Germany's abysmal performance in the World Cup saw them lose two of their group stage games - a far cry from their triumph at the 2014 tournament which saw them thrash Brazil 7-1 on their way to the final. SI.com, "Manuel Neuer Brands Germany Squad 'Pathetic' After World Cup Group Stage Humiliation," 28 June 2018 After an abysmal 3-for-14 shooting display Thursday, Nowell didn’t press. Percy Allen, The Seattle Times, "Three impressions from Washington’s 77-70 win at Colorado," 13 Jan. 2019 That’s nearly 30 years of statistics showing that despite all the efforts to make a change, voter turnout has remained abysmal. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Why don't we get ourselves to the polls on Election Day?," 21 Mar. 2018 The focal point of the episode, though, was probably Jack and Rebecca's first date—which was absolutely abysmal. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "This Hidden Detail From the This Is Us Season 3 Premiere Will Wreck You," 29 Sep. 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.

See More

First Known Use of abysmal

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for abysmal

abysm + -al entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abysmal

Dictionary Entries near abysmal








Statistics for abysmal

Last Updated

30 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abysmal

The first known use of abysmal was circa 1656

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for abysmal


abys·​mal | \ ə-ˈbiz-məl How to pronounce abysmal (audio) \

Kids Definition of abysmal

: extremely bad an abysmal report card

Keep scrolling for more

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 move or proceed with twists and turns

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!