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[wist-fuh l] /ˈwɪst fəl/
characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
pensive, especially in a melancholy way.
Origin of wistful
1605-15; obsolete wist quiet, silent, attentive (variant of whist2) + -ful
Related forms
wistfully, adverb
wistfulness, noun
unwistful, adjective
unwistfully, adverb
unwistfulness, noun
2. reflective, musing, meditative, forlorn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wistful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He turned round and saw before him the wistful face of Fanny!

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • As we entered the ballroom, her eyes were wistful, searching, yet not expecting to find.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • He put on his spectacles and looked at her with wistful kindness.

  • There was a strange note of wistful pleading in the nurse's voice.

    Gloria and Treeless Street Annie Hamilton Donnell
  • I did observe that you did cast a wistful eye upon my bookshelf.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for wistful


sadly pensive, esp about something yearned for
Derived Forms
wistfully, adverb
wistfulness, 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
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Word Origin and History for wistful

1610s, "closely attentive," from obsolete wist "intent" (c.1500), of uncertain origin. Perhaps formed on the model of wishful. The meaning of "yearningly eager" is first recorded 1714. Related: Wistfully; wistfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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