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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

Synonyms for dreary

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Antonyms for dreary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dreary

Contemporary Examples of dreary

Historical Examples of dreary

  • He found the district to the north to be a dreary waste, destitute of food and water.

  • There was the dreary monotone of crushed hope in Porter's voice as he spoke.


    W. A. Fraser

  • I have one dreary, cold room, as unlike this as two rooms can be.

  • All was deep, dreary darkness, but Siegfried had not learned fear.

  • The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest.

British Dictionary definitions for dreary


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

Word Origin for dreary

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 dreary

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper