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

  • adj. Causing gloom or depression; dreary: dismal weather; took a dismal view of the economy.
  • adj. Characterized by ineptitude, dullness, or a lack of merit: a dismal book; a dismal performance on the cello.
  • adj. Obsolete Dreadful; disastrous.
  • n. Chiefly South Atlantic U.S. See pocosin. See Regional Note at pocosin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. See extract and etymology.
  • n. Gloom; melancholy; dumps: usually in the plural, in the phrase in the dismals.
  • n. plural Mourning-garments.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The devil.
  • To feel dismal or melancholy.
  • n. plural The blues; the dumps; a state of gloominess or despondency: as, to be in the dismals.

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

  • adj. causing dejection


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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


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  • dismal science

    February 25, 2018

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

    Source: The times Literary supplement

    January 22, 2018

  • 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