First, consider this sentence:
We lost the game because we played awfully.
Since "awful" means "very bad," it makes sense that "awfully" means "very badly."
Now, consider these two sentences:
1) Google is an awfully good search engine.
2) Bing is an awfully bad search engine.
In the second example, regardless of the adjective's connotation, "awfully" just acts as an intensifier - it simply means "very." Why do we use "awfully" this way? How did this form of the adverb come about?
I'd be awfully grateful if someone could enlighten me.