abysmal, abyssal
The currency of these two words is in inverse proportion to that of the parent words: abysmal, with its figurative meaning ‘very bad’ and a literal meaning relating to gorges, outer space, etc., is common, whereas abyssal is limited to technical usage in oceanography, ‘belonging to one of the deepest levels of the ocean’ (e.g. in the term abyssal floor) and geology, where it has a meaning, similar to plutonic, relating to igneous rock (as in abyssal hills). By contrast, abyss is still used (usually in figurative uses denoting disaster, e.g. They are staring into the abyss), whereas abysm (under 20 in the OEC) is not. Examples of abysmal: (figurative)

• The day was hot, the organisation…excellent, and the cricket of generally abysmal quality —Wisden Cricket Monthly, 1992

• Video ads have been tried many times before and, each time, have been abysmal failures —Aardvark Daily, NewZE 2004 [OEC]

• The US is not alone in its abysmal ignorance of the democratic processes of countries it considers its staunchest allies —Cherwell Magazine Online, 2005 [OEC]

• (literal) Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea —P. Allardice, 1990.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • abyssal — abyssal, ale, aux [ abisal, o ] adj. • 1885; « dont l immensité est insondable » théol. 1521; du lat. abyssus « abîme » ♦ Géogr. Des grandes profondeurs, qui a rapport aux abysses. ⇒ hadal. Fosses abyssales. Faune abyssale. ⇒ pélagique. ● abyssal …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Abyssal — (vom griechischen ἄβυσσος abyssos grundlose Tiefe, das Bodenlose; nach frühen Vorstellungen besaß der Ozean keinen Boden) ist nach mehrheitlicher Auffassung in der Forschung der Teil des Meeresbodens (marines Benthal) zwischen 2.000 m und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Abyssal — Мини альбом Envy Дата выпуска 7 ноября 2007 Жанры скримо, пост рок Длит …   Википедия

  • Abyssal — A*byss al, a. [Cf. {Abysmal}.] Belonging to, or resembling, an abyss; unfathomable. [1913 Webster] {Abyssal zone} (Phys. Geog.), one of the belts or zones into which Sir E. Forbes divides the bottom of the sea in describing its plants, animals,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Abyssal — 2007 EP de Envy Publicación 7 de noviembre de 2007 Género(s) screamo hardcore punk post rock Duración 25:20 …   Wikipedia Español

  • abyssal — abyssal, ale (entrée créée par le supplément) (a bi ssal, ssa l ) adj. Sans fond, profond. •   L amour abyssal, c est à dire, selon leur langage [des mystiques], l amour intime, infini, profond, BOSSUET 5e écrit, 10 …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Abyssal — ⇒ Benthal …   Deutsch wörterbuch der biologie

  • abyssal — (adj.) 1690s, used especially of the zone of ocean water below 300 fathoms, from ABYSS (Cf. abyss) + AL (Cf. al) (1). Though the 19th century, abysmal was more common in oceanography …   Etymology dictionary

  • abyssal — pelagic, oceanic, marine (see AQUATIC) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • abyssal — abys|sal 〈Adj.〉 = abyssisch * * * Abyssal   das, s, Tiefenbereich der Ozeane; bei etwa 1 000 m Tiefe beginnend und bis etwa 6 000 7 000 m Tiefe reichend. Das Abyssal ist eine völlig lichtlose Zone ohne Pflanzen. * * * Abys|sal, das; s: abyssale… …   Universal-Lexikon

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