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See more synonyms for dreary on Thesaurus.com
adjective, drear·i·er, drear·i·est.
  1. causing sadness or gloom.
  2. dull; boring.
  3. sorrowful; sad.
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Origin of dreary

before 900; Middle English drery, Old English drēorig gory, cruel, sad, equivalent to drēor gore + -ig -y1; akin to Old Norse dreyrigr bloody, German traurig sad
Related formsdrear·i·ly, adverbdrear·i·ness, noundrear·i·some, adjective


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

Examples from the Web for dreariness

Historical Examples

  • So, she went through the inferno of days and nights in a dreariness of suffering that was deadly.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Do you suppose I do not understand the dreariness it has been for you?

  • She takes a fancy to the dreariness, and always carries the key with her.

  • The weather was much the same; but its dreariness had vanished.

  • Now the bigness only emphasized the dreariness and desolation.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for dreariness


adjective drearier or dreariest
  1. sad or dull; dismal
  2. wearying; boring
  3. archaic miserable
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Also (literary): drear
Derived Formsdrearily, adverbdreariness, noun

Word Origin

Old English drēorig gory; related to Old High German trūreg sad
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 dreariness


Old English dreorinysse; see dreary + -ness.

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Old English dreorig "sad, sorrowful," originally "cruel, bloody, blood-stained," from dreor "gore, blood," from (ge)dreosan (past participle droren) "fall, decline, fail," from West Germanic *dreuzas (cf. Old Norse dreyrigr "gory, bloody," and more remotely, German traurig "sad, sorrowful"), from PIE root *dhreu- "to fall, flow, drip, droop" (see drip (v.)).

The word has lost its original sense of "dripping blood." Sense of "dismal, gloomy" first recorded 1667 in "Paradise Lost," but Old English had a related verb drysmian "become gloomy."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper