- causing gloom or dejection; gloomy; dreary; cheerless; melancholy: dismal weather.
- characterized by ineptness or lack of skill, competence, effectiveness, imagination, or interest; pitiful: Our team played a dismal game.
- disastrous; calamitous.
- unlucky; sinister.
- Southern U.S. a tract of swampy land, usually along the coast.
Origin of dismal
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for dismal
While it is sadly too late for Ms. Peña, there is hope beyond these dismal facts.Elizabeth Peña and the Truth About Alcoholic Women
October 24, 2014
But there was still a paper to get out in Washington, and I went there late in the afternoon to tackle the dismal job.The Stacks: H.L. Mencken on the 1904 Baltimore Fire
October 4, 2014
GBM is a devastating diagnosis for a neurosurgeon to deliver to a patient and their family, one with a dismal outcome.Why Men May Be More Likely to Get Deadly Brain Cancer
Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD, Tej Azad
August 5, 2014
It sounds like a dismal new episode of the new 24: Live Another Day.It’s Not Time to Worry About China’s Plague Just Yet
July 23, 2014
Ryan McGarry M.D., director of the documentary Code Black, addresses the dismal state of urgent care.‘Code Black’: An M.D. on How to Fix Our Emergency Room Crisis
June 20, 2014
This illuminated the entire room, but in a partial and dismal manner.Way of the Lawless
Many a dismal and unhappy tale might be wrought out of its other adventures.Other Tales and Sketches
She felt a dismal suspicion that this was going to daunt her.Quaint Courtships
The dismal Hecate did not much like the idea of going abroad into the sunny world.Tanglewood Tales
Farewell to the dismal, blood-red phantom of martial renown!The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
- causing gloom or depression
- causing dismay or terror
- of poor quality or a low standard; feeble
Word Origin and History for dismal
c.1400, from Anglo-French dismal (mid-13c.), from Old French (li) dis mals "(the) bad days," from Medieval Latin dies mali "evil or unlucky days" (also called dies Ægyptiaci), from Latin dies "days" (see diurnal) + mali, plural of malus "bad" (see mal-).
Through the Middle Ages, calendars marked two days of each month as unlucky, supposedly based on the ancient calculations of Egyptian astrologers (Jan. 1, 25; Feb. 4, 26; March 1, 28; April 10, 20; May 3, 25; June 10, 16; July 13, 22; Aug. 1, 30; Sept. 3, 21; Oct. 3, 22; Nov. 5, 28; Dec. 7, 22). Modern sense of "gloomy, dreary" first recorded in English 1590s, in reference to sounds. Related: Dismally.