Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Causing gloom or depression; dreary.
  • adjective Characterized by ineptitude, dullness, or a lack of merit.
  • adjective Obsolete Dreadful; disastrous.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To feel dismal or melancholy.
  • noun plural The blues; the dumps; a state of gloominess or despondency: as, to be in the dismals.
  • Gloomy; dreary; cheerless; melancholy; doleful; dolorous: originally, as an adjective, in the phrase dismal day or dismal days (see etymology), whence it was extended to any visible physical surroundings, or anything perceived or apprehended, tending to depress or chill the spirits.
  • noun See extract and etymology.
  • noun Gloom; melancholy; dumps: usually in the plural, in the phrase in the dismals.
  • noun plural Mourning-garments.
  • noun A name given in the southern Atlantic States, in the region bordering on the sea and sounds, and especially in North Carolina, to a tract of land, swampy in character, often covered by a considerable thickness of half-decayed wood and saturated with water.
  • noun The devil.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Fatal; ill-omened; unlucky.
  • adjective Gloomy to the eye or ear; sorrowful and depressing to the feelings; foreboding; cheerless; dull; dreary

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Disappointingly inadequate.
  • adjective Gloomy and bleak.
  • adjective Depressing.

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

  • adjective causing dejection

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, unlucky days, unlucky, from Anglo-Norman, unlucky days, from Medieval Latin diēs malī : Latin diēs, pl. of diēs, day; see dyeu- in Indo-European roots + Latin malī, pl. of malus, evil; see mel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin diēs ("day") and malus ("bad") ("bad day").

Examples

  • Isabelle leaned against the doorjamb, her expression dismal.

    Cassandra Clare: The Mortal Instrument Series

  • Isabelle leaned against the doorjamb, her expression dismal.

    City of Glass

  • We covered my prediction for Saturday (Obama!) the governor's endorsement, the then-forthcoming KeyArena rally, and the state of the Republican Party in Washington (which I described as dismal).

    Archive 2008-02-01

  • Fleming, who was a member of the ANC's Pretoria Central branch, said he had left the ANC because of what he termed a dismal lack of democracy in party structures.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • He studied what they call a dismal science, economics, at Yale.

    George Bush: An Intimate Portrait

  • ILOILO CITY, Philippines-Environmental groups lamented what they called the dismal end of the global summit on Copenhagen and issued a challenge to the ...

    WN.com - Articles related to XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India – October 3-14, 2010

  • He added that the figure for 2009 which he described as a dismal year was a far cry from the

    IOL: News

  • Lagos - Following what it described as a dismal outing of the Bauchi State contingent to the recent 16th National Sports Festival, KADA 2009, Bauchi State Council of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has called on the state government to as a matter of necessity probe the activities of the sports administrators to ascertain what went wrong for such a poor result despite the huge resources expended by the state government.

    AllAfrica News: Latest

  • ILOILO CITY, Philippines-Environmental groups lamented what they called the dismal end of the global summit on Copenhagen and issued a challenge to the ...

    WN.com - Business News

  • Byline: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. Environmental groups lamented what they called the dismal end of the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen and issued a challenge to the P.ilippines.

    Climate Ark Climate Change & Global Warming RSS Newsfeed

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Dismal is used a lot by Lewis Carroll in Hunting of the Snark and Alice Through the looking glass. I recognized it right away. Just though it was something worth mentioning.

    September 18, 2007

  • "Observe the tone: genuinely dismal, aspirantly aesthetic, knowingly parodic."

    Source: The times Literary supplement

    January 22, 2018

  • dismal science

    February 25, 2018