Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[dohl-fuh l] /ˈdoʊl fəl/
sorrowful; mournful; melancholy:
a doleful look on her face.
Origin of doleful
First recorded in 1225-75, doleful is from the Middle English word dol-ful. See dole2, -ful
Related forms
dolefully, adverb
dolefulness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for doleful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As I was saying, why should I pretend to be pensive and doleful, when I am as merry as a lark?

    Husks Marion Harland
  • And he concludes this doleful story with the question, "What am I in duty bound to do?"

    Tea Leaves Various
  • The Captain stood gazing at her out of the window, with his hands in his pockets and a doleful look of bewilderment on his face.

    A Change of Air Anthony Hope
  • The doleful fact is, I'm too wretchedly shy and awkward to live.

  • "The Jacobins will rise in consequence of this blunder," was the doleful prophecy.

  • Every day, and many times a day, arose the doleful cry of distress.

    Little Brothers of the Air Olive Thorne Miller
  • He returned to Haramont, singing the most doleful of rural ballads to the mournfullest tunes.

    The Hero of the People Alexandre Dumas
  • "I'm an old woman," sighed Mrs. Clibborn, with a doleful glance.

    The Hero William Somerset Maugham
British Dictionary definitions for doleful


dreary; mournful Archaic word dolesome (ˈdəʊlsəm)
Derived Forms
dolefully, adverb
dolefulness, noun
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for doleful

late 13c., with -ful, from Middle English dole "grief" (early 13c.), from Old French doel (Modern French deuil), from Late Latin dolus "grief," from Latin dolere "suffer, grieve." Related: Dolefully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for doleful

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for doleful

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for doleful