Definitions

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

  • adj. In a deplorable state of distress or misfortune; miserable: "the wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages” ( George Orwell).
  • adj. Characterized by or attended with misery or woe: a wretched life.
  • adj. Of a poor or mean character; dismal: a wretched building.
  • adj. Contemptible; despicable: wretched treatment of the patients.
  • adj. Of very inferior quality: wretched prose.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Very miserable; sunk in, or accompanied by, deep affliction or distress, as from want, anxiety, or grief; calamitous; woeful; very afflicting.
  • adj. Worthless; paltry; very poor or mean; miserable
  • adj. Hatefully contemptible; despicable; wicked.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Very miserable; sunk in, or accompanied by, deep affliction or distress, as from want, anxiety, or grief; calamitous; woeful; very afflicting.
  • adj. Worthless; paltry; very poor or mean; miserable.
  • adj. Hatefully contemptible; despicable; wicked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Suffering from or affected by extreme misery or distress; deeply afflicted; miserable; unhappy.
  • Characterized by or causing misery or unhappiness; very afflicting, annoying, or uncomfortable; distressingly bad in condition or relation: as, the wretched condition of a prison; wretched weather; a wretched prospect.
  • Of miserable character or quality; despicable; contemptible; reprehensible; strongly objectionable: used of persons or things: as, a wretched blunderer or quibbler; a wretched quibble; wretched stuff.
  • Worthless; paltry; very poor, mean, inefficient, unsatisfactory, unskilful, or the like: as, a wretched poem; a wretched cabin; a wretched defense or piece of work.
  • =Syn.1. Forlorn, woebegone.
  • Vile, sorry, shabby, pitiful.

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

  • adj. morally reprehensible
  • adj. deserving or inciting pity
  • adj. of very poor quality or condition
  • adj. very unhappy; full of misery
  • adj. characterized by physical misery

Etymologies

Middle English wrecched, from wrecche, wretch; see wretch.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, as if from wretch + -ed. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The boys hurrahed vociferously when they left what they called wretched little England; but subsequently Richard held that his having been educated abroad was an incalculable loss to him.

    The Life of Sir Richard Burton

  • Great armies of them are toiling now at the building of Ardis, housed in wretched barracks where family life cannot exist, and where decency is displaced by dull bestiality.

    Chapter 21: The Roaring Abysmal Beast

  • Albert wore haircloth next to the skin, and clothed himself with coarse cloth and in wretched garments ....

    St Albert of Trapani

  • She almost died in wretched poverty, saved at the very end by a rediscovery of her work.

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, LIZA!

  • Slightly less wretched is Cavemen, the half hour comedy based on those GEICO commercials running everywhere every five minutes.

    This is my brain on stir-fry

  • They rarely enjoy their home and are often naggy towards their husbands because they are overburdened with masculine duties and so try to enlist help from their husbands for their feminine duties .... oh how wretched is that role blurring.

    Don't Give Up

  • The fishing-fleet, as they call their wretched tubs, will come home, with the usual fuss, to-night, and on Monday it shall be ashes.

    Springhaven

  • He raised his voice and said: Oh, how wretched is my fate!

    Selection from _Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred_

  • "You still have that beetle with you," she asked -- "the Biz-biz, or whatever it is you call the wretched insect?"

    The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle

  • From her childhood her family lost its possessions, and she grew up in wretched circumstances.

    Psalms of the Sisters

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  • '"He was altogether wretched. He hated the dark, and he hated the light more: he hated everything."' -The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

    February 21, 2008