[ diz-muhl ]
/ ˈdɪz məl /


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.
  1. disastrous; calamitous.
  2. unlucky; sinister.


Southern U.S. a tract of swampy land, usually along the coast.

Origin of dismal

1275–1325; Middle English dismale unlucky time, dismol day one of two days in each month considered unlucky (hence later taken as adj.) < Anglo-French dis mal < Medieval Latin diēs malī literally, evil days

Related forms

dis·mal·ly, adverbdis·mal·ness, dis·mal·i·ty, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dismal

British Dictionary definitions for dismal


/ (ˈdɪzməl) /


causing gloom or depression
causing dismay or terror
of poor quality or a low standard; feeble

Derived Forms

dismally, adverbdismalness, noun

Word Origin for dismal

C13: from dismal (noun) list of 24 unlucky days in the year, from Medieval Latin diēs malī bad days, from Latin diēs day + malus bad
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