I had recently come across a sentence that said,
The lack of representation for LGBTQ people and women of color is abysmal.
Page 241 of Broken Horses, by Brandi Carlile.
Considering that the rest of the page was talking about how the music industry was male-dominated business, I got confused. I had previously thought that "abysmal" meant poor quality, so when the sentence says "the lack of representation is abysmal", does it actually mean the representation was great? Or is that interpretation wrong?
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
immeasurably low or wretched: extremely poor or bad
suggesting that the lack is very low, describing the lack itself, while some other sources say
extremely bad; appalling
suggesting that 'abysmal' describes how people see the lack of representation and/or what they think about it, not the actual quality of the lack.
When both definitions are used (the lack of representation is appalling and low), I think it means the opposite of what the author is trying to say. Is this just a context thing, where you have to know the context to know what the author means?