characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
pensive, especially in a melancholy way.

Origin of wistful

1605–15; obsolete wist quiet, silent, attentive (variant of whist2) + -ful
Related formswist·ful·ly, adverbwist·ful·ness, nounun·wist·ful, adjectiveun·wist·ful·ly, adverbun·wist·ful·ness, noun

Synonyms for wistful

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

Examples from the Web for wistful

Contemporary Examples of wistful

Historical Examples of wistful

  • He turned round and saw before him the wistful face of Fanny!

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • As we entered the ballroom, her eyes were wistful, searching, yet not expecting to find.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • He put on his spectacles and looked at her with wistful kindness.

  • There was a strange note of wistful pleading in the nurse's voice.

    Gloria and Treeless Street

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • I did observe that you did cast a wistful eye upon my bookshelf.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for wistful



sadly pensive, esp about something yearned for
Derived Formswistfully, adverbwistfulness, noun
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 wistful

1610s, "closely attentive," from obsolete wist "intent" (c.1500), of uncertain origin. Perhaps formed on the model of wishful. The meaning of "yearningly eager" is first recorded 1714. Related: Wistfully; wistfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper