Have I learnt correct? In some contents awful has the same meaning as awesome and in some other contents they are opposite?

Exp1: There is an awful building in the town, it's a skyscraper.

Exp2: There is an awesome building in the town, it's a skyscraper.


Exp3: There is an awful building in the town, I don't like it.

Exp4: There is an awesome building in the town, I like it.

In exp 1 and 2 the meaning of both are the same but in exp 3 and 4 they have opposite meanings. If I'm correct, so, is there any other words like this that could be both synonyms and antonyms?

  • You would never describe a building as "awful" unless it was bad in some way. In some contexts the word means prodigious, but that is an archaic usage. Check your dictionary a little closer, it should mention things like that. – Robusto Jun 5 '18 at 12:33
  • Why do you think, that 1 and 2 have the same meaning? I can't think of an example, where awful and awesome mean the same. – Geshode Jun 5 '18 at 12:33
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    Geshode, in my dictionary, it is mentioned that sometimes when you want to emphasize how large an amount is, you can use "awful", in the same way for "awesome" . – sasan taghadosi Jun 5 '18 at 12:39
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    St Pauls Cathedral was said to be awful, artificial and amusing, but that was in 1700, and language has changed. – James K Jun 5 '18 at 12:57
  • In my usage, "awful" almost never means good. The adverb "awfully," however, is a neutral intensifier that can be attached to either positive or negative adjectives: "an awfully tasty meal" or "an awfully ugly dog." – Canadian Yankee Jun 5 '18 at 18:49

In modern usage awful and awesome are antonyms.

  • Awful means very bad

  • Awesome means very good

If you want to say "it fills me with awe", nowadays you say "awe-inspiring"

There is a meaning of awful, now slightly dated, and very British.

You have an awful lot of sugar in your tea.

It is restricted to expressions like "awful lot of".

So 1 and 2 mean the opposite, and have much the same meaning as 3 and 4

There are some words that can be synonyms and antonyms: Fast can mean "quick" and "not moving"

*He was running fast/ He was stuck fast.

Quite can mean very or slightly

  • It was quite the nicest thing to say / It was quite a nice thing to say
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    As a Brit, could say, "This answer is awfully good", without any other Brit ever being confused as to what I meant ;) – gone fishin' again. Jun 5 '18 at 15:11
  • Late thought - Brits can [& do] use 'terrible' in the same way, "This answer is terribly good." is probably not the best example, but building on my earlier comment. As 'modern youth' seems to come up with a new one each generation, I guess this has a historical basis. 'Bad' was good when I was younger; 'sick' went through a similar phase this decade. – gone fishin' again. Jun 5 '18 at 16:27
  • There is also Mrs Slocum's standard retort, "Oh! You are awful.", meaning you have been slightly risque. – James Jun 5 '18 at 19:20

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