noun, plural mis·er·ies.

wretchedness of condition or circumstances.
distress or suffering caused by need, privation, or poverty.
great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness.
a cause or source of distress.
Older Use.
  1. a pain: a misery in my left side.
  2. rheumatism.
  3. Often miseries.a case or period of despondency or gloom.

Origin of misery

1325–75; Middle English miserie < Latin miseria, equivalent to miser wretched + -ia -y3

Synonyms for misery

Antonyms for misery

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

Examples from the Web for misery

Contemporary Examples of misery

Historical Examples of misery

  • And let it be considered, what misery to me, Madam, if I marry that hated Solmes!

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • And what I overheard in the armoury--about a telegram--telling me--putting me out of my misery?


    William J. Locke

  • But she had not so much share in her own cheerfulness as her poor aunts had in their misery.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • In the selfishness of his misery he looked upon this as lack of sympathy with himself.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Now, she was sunken in an apathy that saved her from the worst pangs of misery.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for misery


noun plural -eries

intense unhappiness, discomfort, or suffering; wretchedness
a cause of such unhappiness, discomfort, etc
squalid or poverty-stricken conditions
British informal a person who is habitually depressedhe is such a misery
dialect a pain or ailment

Word Origin for misery

C14: via Anglo-Norman from Latin miseria, from miser wretched
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 misery

late 14c., "condition of external unhappiness," from Old French misere "miserable situation, misfortune, distress" (12c.), from Latin miseria "wretchedness," from miser (see miser). Meaning "condition of one in great sorrow or mental distress" is from 1530s. Meaning "bodily pain" is 1825, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with misery


In addition to the idiom beginning with misery

  • misery loves company

also see:

  • put someone out of his or her misery
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.