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

  • n. Deep distress or misery, as from grief; wretchedness. See Synonyms at regret.
  • n. Misfortune; calamity: economic and political woes.
  • interj. Used to express sorrow or dismay.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.
  • adj. woeful; sorrowful

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Woeful; sorrowful.
  • n. Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.
  • n. A curse; a malediction.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Alas! an exclamation of pain or grief. See woe, n.
  • n. Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.
  • n. A heavy calamity; an affliction.
  • n. It is also used in exclamations of sorrow, in such cases the noun or pronoun following being really in the dative.
  • n. Synonyms Distress, tribulation, affliction, bitterness, unhappiness, wretchedness. Woe is an intense unhappiness; the word is strong aud elevated, almost poetical.
  • Sad; sorrowful; miserable; woeful; wretched.

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

  • n. intense mournfulness
  • n. misery resulting from affliction


Middle English wa, wo, from Old English , woe!.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English wo, wei, wa, from Old English , from Proto-Germanic *wai, whence also German weh, Old High German , Old Norse vei. Compare Latin vae. (Wiktionary)



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