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verb (used with object)
  1. to break down the courage of completely, as by sudden danger or trouble; dishearten thoroughly; daunt: The surprise attack dismayed the enemy.
  2. to surprise in such a manner as to disillusion: She was dismayed to learn of their disloyalty.
  3. to alarm; perturb: The new law dismayed some of the more conservative politicians.
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  1. sudden or complete loss of courage; utter disheartenment.
  2. sudden disillusionment.
  3. agitation of mind; perturbation; alarm.
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Origin of dismay

1275–1325; Middle English desmay (noun), de(s)mayen, dismayen (v.) < presumed AF alteration, by prefix change, of Old French esmaier to trouble, frighten < Vulgar Latin *exmagāre to disable, deprive of strength, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + *magāre < Germanic *magan to be able to; see may1
Related formsdis·mayed·ness [dis-meyd-nis, -mey-id-] /dɪsˈmeɪd nɪs, -ˈmeɪ ɪd-/, noundis·may·ing·ly, adverbun·dis·mayed, adjective


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. appall, terrify, frighten, scare, intimidate, disconcert. See discourage. 4. consternation, terror, panic, horror, fear.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for dismayed

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Wretched about one son, he was dismayed at the nocturnal visit of the other.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The little parish woke with a dismayed start and went to work, to a woman.

  • She had been smiling while she was telling this to him, but now she dismayed him by bursting into tears.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • “You must hide me till the morning somewhere,” she said in a dismayed voice.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • And then, too, I was dismayed to find how totally I had mistaken the position of the musician.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for dismayed


verb (tr)
  1. to fill with apprehension or alarm
  2. to fill with depression or discouragement
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  1. consternation or agitation
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Derived Formsdismaying, adjective

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for dismayed



late 13c., dismaien, from Old French *desmaier (attested only in past participle dismaye), from Latin de- intensive prefix + Old French esmaier "to trouble, disturb," from Vulgar Latin *exmagare "divest of power or ability" (source of Italian smagare "to weaken, dismay, discourage"), from ex- (see ex-) + Germanic stem *mag- "power, ability" (cf. Old High German magen "to be powerful or able;" see may (v.)). Spanish desmayer "to be dispirited" is a loan word from Old French. Related: Dismayed; dismaying.

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c.1300, from dismay (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper