• synonyms


or wo·ful

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  1. full of woe; wretched; unhappy: a woeful situation.
  2. affected with, characterized by, or indicating woe: woeful melodies.
  3. of wretched quality; sorry; poor: a woeful collection of paintings.
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Origin of woeful

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at woe, -ful
Related formswoe·ful·ly, adverbwoe·ful·ness, nounun·woe·ful, adjectiveun·woe·ful·ly, adverbun·woe·ful·ness, noun

Synonyms for woeful

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

Related Words for woeful

dreadful, wretched, paltry, shocking, pathetic, calamitous, feeble, lamentable, disappointing, lousy, disastrous, awful, miserable, pitiful, appalling, deplorable, sorry, grim, afflicted, bad

Examples from the Web for woeful

Contemporary Examples of woeful

Historical Examples of woeful

  • At length the frost and snow really did come, and the Chickadees were in a woeful case.

    Johnny Bear

    E. T. Seton

  • And you cannot yet understand all the woeful sadness of the things of which I have been talking to you.

  • His hands, encased in mitts, had placed him at a woeful disadvantage.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Next he laughed softly to himself, a laugh that was woeful with bitterness.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The doctor's threats were interrupted by the entrance of a woeful procession.

    The Doctor's Family

    Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant

British Dictionary definitions for woeful


  1. expressing or characterized by sorrow
  2. bringing or causing woe
  3. pitiful; miserablea woeful standard of work
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Derived Formswoefully, adverbwoefulness, 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 woeful


c.1300, "afflicted with sorrow," from woe + -ful. Weakened sense of "very bad" recorded by 1610s. Related: Woefully; woefulness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper