[ diz-muhl ]
See synonyms for: dismaldismalsdismally on Thesaurus.com

  1. causing gloom or dejection; gloomy; dreary; cheerless; melancholy: dismal weather.

  2. characterized by ineptness or lack of skill, competence, effectiveness, imagination, or interest; pitiful: Our team played a dismal game.

  1. Obsolete.

    • disastrous; calamitous.

    • unlucky; sinister.

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

Origin of dismal

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English dismale “unlucky time,” dismol day one of two days in each month considered unlucky (hence later taken as adjective), from Anglo-French dis mal, from Medieval Latin diēs malī, literally, “evil days”; cf. diary, mal-

Other words for dismal

Opposites for dismal

Other words from dismal

  • dis·mal·ly, adverb
  • dis·mal·ness, dis·mal·i·ty, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use dismal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dismal


/ (ˈdɪzməl) /

  1. causing gloom or depression

  2. causing dismay or terror

  1. of poor quality or a low standard; feeble

Origin of 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

Derived forms of dismal

  • dismally, adverb
  • dismalness, 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