- grievous distress, affliction, or trouble: His woe was almost beyond description.
- an affliction: She suffered a fall, among her other woes.
- an exclamation of grief, distress, or lamentation.
Origin of woe
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for woe
Woe be to her if another candidate with the appeal of an ice cream truck happens to drive by.The Coronation That Wants to Be a Movement: Scenes From Hillary’s Iowa Steak Fry
Ana Marie Cox
September 15, 2014
Woe unto the politicians and parties that fail to grok this, as they will face only bigger and bigger losses in market share.Hey, Boomers—Millennials Hate Your Partisan Crap
July 10, 2014
Woe to you who have fallen away from the righteousness of your ancestors!Did the Southern Baptist ‘Conservative Resurgence’ Fail?
June 1, 2014
Woe unto thee good people of North Carolina for the Muslims are coming to impose Islamic law.North Carolina, Your Anti-Sharia Law Takes the Cake
August 9, 2013
His memoir is not the typical tell-all with tales of woe and abuse.10 Fascinating Porn Star Memoirs: Aurora Snow on Porn Tell-Alls
May 29, 2013
Did she not break into lamentation and woe that a brother should so demean himself?The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
We could not miss the way, our driver said, and woe betide us if we did!The Roof of France
Woe to him who is not the keeper of his own conscience—the supporter of his own resolution!Tales And Novels, Volume 5 (of 10)
A month will decide the one, perhaps: But what a duration of woe will the other be!Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)
Or was it not in that hour—that solemn commune—soothed from its woe?Night and Morning, Complete
- literary intense grief or misery
- (often plural) affliction or misfortune
- woe betide someone misfortune will befall someonewoe betide you if you arrive late
- Also: woe is me archaic an exclamation of sorrow or distress
Word Origin and History for woe
Old English wa, a common exclamation of lament in many languages (cf. Latin væ, Greek oa, German weh, Lettish wai, Old Irish fe, Welsh gwae, Armenian vay). The noun is attested from late 12c., from the interjection.