[ dis-mey ]
/ dɪsˈmeɪ /
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See synonyms for: dismay / dismayed / dismaying on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)

to break down the courage of completely, as by sudden danger or trouble; dishearten thoroughly; daunt: The surprise attack dismayed the enemy.
to surprise in such a manner as to disillusion: She was dismayed to learn of their disloyalty.
to alarm; perturb: The new law dismayed some of the more conservative politicians.


sudden or complete loss of courage; utter disheartenment.
sudden disillusionment.
agitation of mind; perturbation; alarm.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of dismay

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English desmay (noun), de(s)mayen, dismayen (verb), from presumed Anglo-French alteration, by prefix change, of Old French esmaier “to trouble, frighten,” from unattested Vulgar Latin exmagāre “to disable, deprive of strength,” equivalent to ex- ex-1 + unattested magāre, from unattested Germanic magan “to be able to”; see may1

synonym study for dismay

1. See discourage.


dis·may·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for dismay

British Dictionary definitions for dismay

/ (dɪsˈmeɪ) /

verb (tr)

to fill with apprehension or alarm
to fill with depression or discouragement


consternation or agitation

Derived forms of dismay

dismaying, adjective

Word Origin for dismay

C13: from Old French desmaiier (unattested), from des- dis- 1 + esmayer to frighten, ultimately of Germanic origin; see may 1
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