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woeful

or wo·ful

[woh-fuh l]
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adjective
  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

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3. unpromising, unlikely, dreadful, awful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for woeful

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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

woeful

adjective
  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

adj.

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