awesome

English

Etymology

From awe +‎ -some; compare Old English eġeful (fearful; inspiring awe).

Pronunciation

Adjective

awesome (comparative more awesome or awesomer, superlative most awesome or awesomest)

  1. (dated) Causing awe or terror; inspiring wonder or excitement. [from 1590–1600.]
    Synonyms: awe-inspiring; see also Thesaurus:awesome
    The waterfall in the middle of the rainforest was an awesome sight.
    The tsunami was awesome in its destructive power.
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      And now it appeared that there was a mysterious Queen clothed by rumour with dread and wonderful attributes, and commonly known by the impersonal, but, to my mind, rather awesome title of She.
    • 1913 January–May, Edgar Rice Burroughs, “The Gods of Mars”, in The All-Story, New York, N.Y.: Frank A. Munsey Co., OCLC 17392886; republished as “The Eyes in the Dark”, in The Gods of Mars, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1918, OCLC 639726183, page 227:
      I think that the most fearsome attribute of these awesome creatures is their silence and the fact that one never sees them—nothing but those baleful eyes glaring unblinkingly out of the dark void behind.
    • 1984 February 14, John Corry, “Birth Curb in China”, in The New York Times[2], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Certainly it is awesome to think of a nation that brings its powers of persuasion against a woman's right to conceive.
  2. (colloquial) Excellent, exciting, remarkable.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:excellent
    That was awesome!
    Awesome, dude!
    • 1982, Cameron Crowe, Fast Times at Ridgemont High[3], spoken by Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn):
      Awesome! Totally awesome! All right, Hamilton!

Usage notes

The oldest meaning of awesome is of “something which inspires awe”, but the word is now also a common slang expression. It was originally so used in the United States, where it had featured strikingly in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, as used by Japan's Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto to describe the "awesome" industrial potential of the United States. Consequently, as the word popularly became an expression for anything superb, in its original meaning it has tended to be replaced by the related word, awe-inspiring.

The comparative and superlative forms awesomer and awesomest are generally regarded as nonstandard.

Antonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun

awesome (uncountable)

  1. (slang) Short for awesomeness: the quality, state, or essence of being awesome.
    Synonym: (slang) awesome sauce
    Antonyms: (slang) fail, (vulgar) shit, (slang) weaksauce
    pure awesome
    made of awesome
    • 2011, Gwen Hayes, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (2011), →ISBN, page 6:
      Plus, her patent leather boots were made of awesome. They made her legs look longer and leaner.
    • 2011, Kevin Seccia, Punching Tom Hanks: Dropkicking Gorillas and Pummeling Zombified Ex-Presidents—A Guide to Beating Up Anything, St. Martin's Press (2011), →ISBN, page 189:
      Swayze, of course, is the being of pure awesome who has by now conquered all of Heaven.
    • 2013, Carrie Jones, Captivate, Bloomsbury (2010), →ISBN, page 150:
      “Your grandmother,” he mumbles into my hair as we cuddle on the couch, “is made of awesome.”

Further reading