definitions
  • synonyms

bleak

1
[ bleek ]
/ blik /
|
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adjective, bleak·er, bleak·est.

bare, desolate, and often windswept: a bleak plain.
cold and piercing; raw: a bleak wind.
without hope or encouragement; depressing; dreary: a bleak future.

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RELATED WORDS

desolate, austere, dreary, chilly, cold, grim, lonely, harsh, somber, sad, dark, gloomy, dismal, bare, blank, burned, desert, deserted, exposed, flat

Nearby words

bleacherite, bleachers, bleachery, bleaching, bleaching powder, bleak, bleak house, bleakly, bleakness, blear, blearedness

Origin of bleak

1
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 formsbleak·ish, adjectivebleak·ly, adverbbleak·ness, noun

Synonym study

3. See austere.

Definition for bleak (2 of 2)

bleak

2
[ bleek ]
/ blik /

noun

a European freshwater fish, Alburnus alburnus, having scales with a silvery pigment that is used in the production of artificial pearls.

Origin of bleak

2
1400–50; late Middle English bleke, noun use of bleke pale; see bleak1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bleak

British Dictionary definitions for bleak (1 of 2)

bleak

1
/ (bliːk) /

adjective

exposed and barren; desolate
cold and raw
offering little hope or excitement; dismala bleak future
Derived Formsbleakly, adverbbleakness, noun

Word Origin for bleak

Old English blāc bright, pale; related to Old Norse bleikr white, Old High German bleih pale

British Dictionary definitions for bleak (2 of 2)

bleak

2
/ (bliːk) /

noun

any slender silvery European cyprinid fish of the genus Alburnus, esp A. lucidus, occurring in slow-flowing rivers

Word Origin for bleak

C15: probably from Old Norse bleikja white colour; related to Old High German bleiche bleach
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

Word Origin and History for bleak

bleak


adj.

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