Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “an abysmal outlook.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The outlook was abysmal.”)
An abyss is a hole (or an emptiness) that's infinitely huge.
So, something abysmal is like that: so deep or so vast that you can't even measure it.
More commonly, something abysmal is extremely, hopelessly bad.
You can say "abyssal" for the adjective, but that's usually for literal descriptions of oceanography, and
you can also say "abysm" for the noun, but that's usually poetic.
How to use it:
Talk about abysmal conditions or an abysmal state; an abysmal performance, an abysmal record, or an abysmal handling of an issue; an abysmal ranking, abysmal results, or an abysmal test score, and so on.
You can even stick the word before things that are already bad: abysmal poverty, abysmal misery, abysmal failure, abysmal ignorance, etc.
The home was in an abysmal state of disrepair, with a basement that looked and smelled to have completely rotted.
I've heard that a standout college admissions essay can negate an abysmal transcript, but I'll have to see it to believe it.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "abysmal" means when you can explain it without saying “like a chasm" or "terrible."
Think of a particular disaster you've handled or witnessed, and fill in the blank: "Things went from bad to abysmal as _____."
Example: "Things went from bad to abysmal as the house he couldn't sell was suddenly worth less than what he owed on it."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don't go straight to the review now;let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're reviewing recently featured words with some activities created with my favorite vocabulary software: Vocabulary Worksheet Factory, made by Schoolhouse Technologies. It's a simple, flexible program that lets you input word lists and definitions, then create customized, fun worksheets for review. We're starting off with very easy activities, then working our way toward harder reviews throughout the month.
Ray Bradbury: “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
1. The opposite of ABYSMAL is
2. We _____ as she read her abysmal poetry aloud.
A. listened politely
B. enjoyed the rhythm and imagery
C. cringed and hoped someone would pull the fire alarm
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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