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See more synonyms for wistful on Thesaurus.com
  1. characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
  2. pensive, especially in a melancholy way.
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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

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

Related Words for wistfulness

gloom, desperation, sorrow, despondency, grief, despair, boredom, ennui, wistfulness, longing, sentimentality, remorse, yearning, tedium, dejection, downer, dolor, dumps, letdown, bummer

Examples from the Web for wistfulness

Contemporary Examples of wistfulness

Historical Examples of wistfulness

  • There was a new atmosphere of wistfulness about the girl that made his heart ache.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • There was a wistfulness about Tillie's mouth that set him wondering.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • There had been a wistfulness, so rarely in Martin's voice, that Rose had detected it instantly.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • A new wistfulness was in her face, but it was not the wistfulness of hunger.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Vere smiled as she listened, but there was a wistfulness in her heart.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

British Dictionary definitions for wistfulness


  1. sadly pensive, esp about something yearned for
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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 wistfulness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper