I was reading about "grading" and "non-grading" adverbs, came across with the adverb dreadfully. Surprisingly, I found that there are two sources mentioning the adverb as chiefly British [1], [2]. However, there are other sources that do not mention similar thing. That motivated me to ask about this adverb.

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    It's not in the vocabulary of most speakers of American English as a synonym for "very". An American can do dreadfully on an exam. But he does not get dreadfully sleepy. Jul 28 '16 at 23:28
  • The same could go for 'terribly'. This is also mainly British and Commonwealth usage but an American using it need not have to feel he is saying something stilted.
    – tom
    Jul 29 '16 at 6:27
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    @tom: My impression is that terribly is quite common in American English. Jul 29 '16 at 11:18

Your second source, the Oxford dictionary (online) says 'chiefly British'. That is its UK version. Its US version does not say 'Chiefly British'. Which version are you goin to believe? By the way, I don't see what your first reference is pointing to, so that it says the word is 'chiefly British'.

Dreadfully can mean terribly, as in I'm terribly/dreadfully tired.. It is also synonymous with awfully and horribly. None of these words would seem overly strange to speakers of American English.

The American Heritage Dictionary lists one definition of dreadfully as

Extremely; very: was dreadfully ill; a dreadfully boring book; dreadfully exciting.

So, no.

  • 1
    Thank you Alan, I was confused. I learned something new which is checking American version rather British version. So far, I did not care about that.
    – Cardinal
    Jul 29 '16 at 7:22

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