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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 bleakness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And he liked East Wellmouth, bareness and bleakness and lonesomeness and all.

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
  • There was a bleakness about the situation which made one gasp.

    Jill the Reckless P. G. (Pelham Grenville) Wodehouse
  • But as she entered it that afternoon its air of peace seemed the bleakness of desolation.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • But in partial compensation for this bleakness is a fine ruggedness.

  • The warmth of the room was very agreeable in contrast to the bleakness of out-doors.

    At Fault Kate Chopin.
  • Everyday light had filled her with bleakness and disillusion.

    Amabel Channice Anne Douglas Sedgwick
British Dictionary definitions for bleakness


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 bleakness

c.1600, from bleak + -ness.



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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