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adjective, wretch·ed·er, wretch·ed·est.
  1. very unfortunate in condition or circumstances; miserable; pitiable.
  2. characterized by or attended with misery and sorrow.
  3. despicable, contemptible, or mean: a wretched miser.
  4. poor, sorry, or pitiful; worthless: a wretched job of sewing.

Origin of wretched

First recorded in 1150–1200, wretched is from the Middle English word wrecchede. See wretch, -ed3
Related formswretch·ed·ly, adverbwretch·ed·ness, nounun·wretch·ed, adjective

Synonyms for wretched

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1. dejected, distressed, afflicted, woeful, woebegone, forlorn, unhappy. 2. Wretched, miserable, sorry refer to that which is unhappy, afflicted, or distressed. Wretched refers to a condition of extreme affliction or distress, especially as outwardly apparent: wretched hovels. Miserable refers more to the inward feeling of unhappiness or distress: a miserable life. Sorry applies to distressed, often poverty-stricken outward circumstances; but it has connotations of unworthiness, incongruousness, or the like, so that the beholder feels more contempt than pity: in a sorry plight. 3. base, vile.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for wretchedness


  1. in poor or pitiful circumstances
  2. characterized by or causing misery
  3. despicable; base
  4. poor, inferior, or paltry
  5. (prenominal) (intensifier qualifying something undesirable)a wretched nuisance
Derived Formswretchedly, adverbwretchedness, 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 wretchedness



c.1200, wrecched, an irregular formation from wrecche "wretch" (see wretch). Cf. also wicked.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper