Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Very uncomfortable or unhappy; wretched.
  • adj. Causing or accompanied by great discomfort or distress: a miserable climate.
  • adj. Mean or shameful; contemptible: a miserable trick.
  • adj. Wretchedly inadequate: lived in a miserable shack; fed the prisoners miserable rations.
  • adj. Of poor quality; inferior: miserable handicraft.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. In a state of misery: very sad, ill, or poor.
  • adj. Very bad (at something); unskilled, incompetent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Very unhappy; wretched; living in misery.
  • adj. Causing unhappiness or misery.
  • adj. Worthless; mean; despicable
  • adj. Avaricious; niggardly; miserly.
  • n. A miserable person.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Unhappy; wretched; hapless.
  • Causing or attended by suffering or unhappiness; distressing; doleful: as, a miserable lot or condition; miserable weather.
  • Manifesting misery; indicative of want or suffering; shocking; pitiable: as, a miserable hut; to be covered with miserable rags; miserable looks.
  • Of wretched character or quality; without value or merit; very poor; mean; worthless: as, a miserable soil; a miserable performer or performance; a miserable subterfuge.
  • Covetous; miserly; niggardly.
  • Compassionate; merciful; commiserating.
  • Synonyms Distressed, forlorn, disconsolate, afflicted, pitiable. See affliction.
  • n. An unfortunate, unhappy creature; a wretch.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of the most contemptible kind
  • adj. deserving or inciting pity
  • adj. contemptibly small in amount
  • adj. characterized by physical misery
  • adj. very unhappy; full of misery
  • adj. of very poor quality or condition

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin miserābilis, pitiable, from miserārī, to pity, from miser, wretched.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • As for Ester, she prayed, in her clothes-press, thankfully for Dr. Douglass, more hopefully for Sadie, and knew not that a corner of the poor little letter which had slipped from Julia's hand and floated down the stream one summer morning, thereby causing her such a miserable, _miserable_ day, was lying at that moment in Dr. Douglass 'note-book, counted as the most precious of all his precious bits of paper.

    Ester Ried

  • I know, 'cried Eugénie de Netteville at last, standing at bay before him, her hands locked before her, her white lips quivering, when her cup of shame was full, and her one impulse left was to strike the man who had humiliated her --' I know that you and your puritanical wife are miserable -- _miserable_.

    Robert Elsmere

  • I know, 'cried Eugénie de Netteville at last, standing at bay before him, her hands locked before her, her white lips quivering, when her cup of shame was full, and her one impulse left was to strike the man who had humiliated her-'I know that you and your puritanical wife are miserable -- _miserable_.

    Robert Elsmere

  • 'I'm perfectly _miserable_!' he concluded, with a strong emphasis on the 'miserable.'

    Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour

  • _miserable pride_, very absurdly, for disdaine or disdained things cannot be said darke, but rather bright and cleere, because they be beholden and much looked vpon, and pride is rather enuied then pitied or miserable, vnlessse it be in Christian charitie, which helpeth not the terme in this case.

    The Arte of English Poesie

  • The term "miserable little compromise" was correctly directed at Gordon Brown's pitiful and insincere offers of minimal policy cooperation in order to resuscitate his dying government.

    The Guardian World News

  • At one point during George W. Bush's presidency, a search for the word "miserable failure" called up his official White House biography as the first result.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • BONN - Chancellor Helmut Kohl has laid part of the blame for what he called the miserable showing of his Christian Democrats (CDU) in weekend local elections on his ruling three-party coalition.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • She had occasionally given him a five-dollar bill to eke out what he termed his miserable pay, and now whenever he called he didn't spare hints that he was out of pocket, and that a further gift would be acceptable.

    The Cash Boy

  • Somerset administered two drams, one after the other, to the man with the chin-beard; who then, somewhat restored, began to confound himself in apologies for what he called his miserable nervousness, the result, he said, of a long course of dumb ague; and having taken leave with a hand that still sweated and trembled, he gingerly resumed his burthen and departed.

    The Dynamiter

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  • "Mostly I've not been quite so miserable since last year's holiday, but things are looking up here in D."
    - Colin Dexter, 'The Way Through The Woods'.

    November 1, 2008