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[bleek] /blik/
adjective, bleaker, bleakest.
bare, desolate, and often windswept:
a bleak plain.
cold and piercing; raw:
a bleak wind.
without hope or encouragement; depressing; dreary:
a bleak future.
Origin of bleak1
1300-50; Middle English bleke pale, blend of variants bleche (Old English blǣc) and blake (Old English blāc); both cognate with Old Norse bleikr, German bleich; akin to bleach
Related forms
bleakish, adjective
bleakly, adverb
bleakness, noun
Synonym Study
3. See austere. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bleakly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Truth came to him bleakly, and laid her chill conviction upon him.

    The War in the Air Herbert George Wells
  • They knocked again, waited, then stared at each other bleakly.

    The Golden Skull John Blaine
  • “That is no matter of congratulation with me,” she said bleakly.

    Robinetta Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • The third, clearly one of greater authority, regarded Ross bleakly.

    The Time Traders Andre Norton
  • She wouldn't get out of the way of evil, but bleakly accepted it.

    Christopher and Columbus

    Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim
  • He was bleakly lonely in the evening, when he dined by himself at the Regency Hotel.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • The morning broke, as it always did whenever we tried to cross the river, bleakly and coldly.

    Wanderings in Patagonia

    Julius Beerbohm
  • She was standing by the window, staring down at the gray, distant desert, her eyes as bleakly empty as it.

British Dictionary definitions for bleakly


exposed and barren; desolate
cold and raw
offering little hope or excitement; dismal: a bleak future
Derived Forms
bleakly, adverb
bleakness, noun
Word Origin
Old English blāc bright, pale; related to Old Norse bleikr white, Old High German bleih pale


any slender silvery European cyprinid fish of the genus Alburnus, esp A. lucidus, occurring in slow-flowing rivers
Word Origin
C15: probably from Old Norse bleikja white colour; related to Old High German bleichebleach
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bleakly

1530s, from bleak (adj.) + -ly (2).



c.1300, "pale," from Old Norse bleikr "pale, whitish, blond," from Proto-Germanic *blaika- "shining, white," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)). Later "bare, windswept" (1530s). Sense of "cheerless" is c.1719 figurative extension. The same Germanic root produced Old English blac "pale," but this died out, probably from confusion with blæc "black;" however bleak persisted, with a sense of "bare" as well as "pale."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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