Main definitions of bleak in English

: bleak1bleak2

bleak1

adjective

  • 1(of an area of land) lacking vegetation and exposed to the elements.

    ‘a bleak and barren moor’
    • ‘The retail park is rather bleak and bare still, and there's a deal of construction going on.’
    • ‘On the 40-minute journey across the bleak landscape of the Fens the coach was preceded by a vanguard of police motorcycles with blue lights flashing.’
    • ‘They are the last of their generation of brave young men who risked their lives for their country, fighting on the bleak battlefields of Flanders and facing horrors people today can hardly imagine.’
    • ‘And yet, amid this bleak landscape, there is talk of a new St. Bernard, rising from the mud.’
    • ‘But after three years of drought and little prospect that this year's rains will arrive in mid-April, the scene in Gode and other zones is bleak.’
    • ‘It was partly Wolfe's portrait of the Bronx - a bleak, unprepossessing gang land - that has kept me away all this time.’
    • ‘Here one encounters the bleak landscape for the first time.’
    • ‘With nothing but miles of open, bleak desert ahead of her, she battled mind over matter to reach the end of a gruelling 160 km trip.’
    • ‘The Norwegian lieutenant was a national hero, known to everyone, even in this bleak area.’
    • ‘I look around, and the bleak landscape leads me to wonder what use a place like this would have for China, a country already vast in size, population and economy.’
    • ‘The yard and the vast prairie lands were bleak and desolate.’
    • ‘You make a commitment to build a new world that is more fruitful and less bleak and barren than the desert of the past.’
    • ‘The trees are bare, the land is bleak, closed, unproductive and numb, its furrows seemingly incapable of the new life we hope for in the spring.’
    • ‘They seemed both happy and disturbed, glad to see a change of pace besides the bleak land they were in, but unhappy for it to be that kind of change of pace.’
    • ‘They were always the same; he would be stood at the top of the same cliff, watching the same bleak, dead land.’
    • ‘They also give him room to create bleak landscapes that mirror the morality of the tales.’
    • ‘Rhea looked up miserably at the bleak mountains surrounding them.’
    • ‘He described the desert as so bleak and empty that travelers stacked up bones as landmarks.’
    • ‘It was a vast, bleak, exposed expanse of tarmac with nothing in it but broken glass.’
    • ‘Our UN vehicle travelled along a barren and bleak landscape to reach the town from Sofia.’
    bare, exposed, desolate, stark, arid, desert, denuded, lunar, open, empty, windswept
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a building or room) charmless and inhospitable; dreary.
      ‘he looked round the bleak little room in despair’
      • ‘They were ushered into a huge bleak room with some chairs, a bar with food and drinks, and a big-screen television.’
      • ‘Amongst these, a flutter of origami birds was the bright spot, alongside a glossy triptych of photos slotting bleak landscape between bleak tower blocks.’
      • ‘Chillingham Castle - a wonderfully bleak castle in the north east - was used for Fotheringay, scene of Mary Queen of Scots' incarceration.’
      • ‘After being bailed out by a friend, he is kidnapped and wakes up in a bleak room designed to look like a hotel but with a false view window and a locked steel door.’
      • ‘The psychologist's room was bare and bleak with no windows.’
      • ‘Isolated in a bleak house in the midst of a desolate, frozen landscape, Conradin finds himself unable to adjust to his aunt's harsh regime.’
      • ‘Why a team with two Olympians couldn't find the moxie to pull out an important win was a mystery inside the Storm's bleak locker room.’
      • ‘After a few hours of riding, they saw it in the distance - a large, bleak tower, standing dark against a beautiful bright blue sky.’
      • ‘As there are hardly any congregants in the bleak church, and these include only some of the central characters, this seems a strange device.’
      • ‘And it isn't just that so many of its key scenes are set in dark, dreary places: a hellish prison, a bleak factory, the sewers of Paris.’
      • ‘It is a bleak, formally furnished room, with large gold-framed photographs of kings and queens on the walls.’
      • ‘Even the bleak tower blocks of Hume are caught in limpid Northern sunlight, breaking through the clouds, making the estates look like places of hopeful promise.’
      • ‘It seemed so hard to believe that anyone so accustomed to such accommodations could possibly live in the dark bleak castle of Amedon.’
      • ‘Hammond paced around the man known as Samuel Phillips, who unwilling sat strapped to a bolted down chair in the center of the bleak interrogation room.’
      • ‘It is a bleak suite of secure rooms, with bullet-proof doors and walls up to six feet thick.’
      • ‘The painting becomes a study of a rather bleak room illuminated by indirect light that barely enables us to make out the art on the walls.’
      • ‘He now lives alone in a one-bedroom flat on a bleak housing estate in Stranraer, Wigtownshire.’
      • ‘The very best of the various consequences that might befall us would be the prolonged hardship and misery of an indefinite stay in a bleak prison camp.’
      • ‘You get a sense of the scale of the city as you speed down rivers that curve forever, flanked by electrical towers, bleak apartment buildings and factories.’
      • ‘He had been entrapped in this dark and bleak prison for years, and it was only recently that he had been able to escape its bars.’
    2. 1.2 (of the weather) cold and miserable.
      ‘a bleak midwinter's day’
      • ‘Despite bleak weather, there was plenty of sparkle at Grasmere's first Festival of the Stars at the weekend, ensuring the event was a big success.’
      • ‘It is very much a community event, with schools, businesses and local organisations all joining together for a fun day to brighten the bleak midwinter.’
      • ‘We paired it up with a floral top because in the bleak mid-winter there is nothing quite so depressing as the flowerless landscape.’
      • ‘Although the weather on Friday was bleak, Bob assured me that Saturday would be great.’
      • ‘Our weather was bleak, and in the US the climate was no better, the gloom reflecting the mood of the nation.’
      • ‘The cold and bleak winter weather all add up to us feeling grumpy and miserable.’
      • ‘Without warning rain began to come down in sheets, blanketing the world in a bleak fog.’
      • ‘The bleak and even ominous weather conditions only added to the feeling of desolation that consumed the languishing souls in the castle.’
      • ‘Out of Germany for 3 years, they returned to find the bleak, miserable European weather.’
      • ‘She gasped in excitement as she saw bolts of lightning flitter across the sky, leaping from one bleak rain cloud to another.’
      • ‘Our host, Mr Barelli, greeted us in out of the bleak rain as he greets everyone at his restaurant.’
      • ‘February is bleak and cold, and there's nothing wrong with a little color and a park full of people.’
      • ‘There was little vegetation and a bleak wind blew down from the snows of the high passes.’
      • ‘January was dimming into the equally cold, bleak abyss of New England weather that was February.’
      • ‘So intense was the pain in this instance that I passed out on that cold, bleak Ann Arbor afternoon.’
      • ‘It left the punters with a warm glow to accompany them as they made their way in the evening's bleak weather.’
      • ‘They fear that in the bleak weather, householders may want to take advantage of any offer to remove overgrown trees or shrubs.’
      • ‘Why go back to that bleak weather and humdrum British nine to five?’
      • ‘There are still months of bleak weather stretching out ahead without a glimmer of anything to look forward to, and festive cheer has up and left.’
      • ‘I arrived shortly before 10 a.m. in a bleak downpour, trusting that someone had recorded my appointment.’
      cold, keen, raw, harsh, wintry
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a situation) not hopeful or encouraging; unlikely to have a favourable outcome.
      ‘he paints a bleak picture of a company that has lost its way’
      ‘the future looks bleak’
      • ‘From a bleak situation there's still a chance of a complete cure.’
      • ‘Conditions are so bleak in so many areas we seem on the verge of a social emergency.’
      • ‘Otherwise the future of sport in the area will be very bleak indeed and may fine sporting amenities will remain underused.’
      • ‘Alex Robson's bleak view of the sugar industry is challenged by the Queensland Canegrowers Organisation.’
      • ‘I spoke with mothers fretful and tearful about their bleak prospects but struggling to maintain a facade of optimism and cheerfulness in the presence of their children.’
      • ‘A Jew must do what he or she can, must exert him- or herself to the fullest, even under the most hopeless, helpless and bleak situations.’
      • ‘People in such bleak circumstances often acted upon desperation.’
      • ‘If people on middle incomes continue to shun inner cities, those areas will face a bleak future.’
      • ‘Newspaper reports about the topic also opened her eyes to the bleak situation of the elderly.’
      • ‘A bleak exposé of the risk came in a remarkably frank report by Jiang protge Zeng Qinghong, head of the party's powerful organization department.’
      • ‘It's New York in the mid-'80s and the situation is bleak.’
      • ‘With the real estate market booming and vacancy rates dropping, the situation for people looking for affordable housing is bleak.’
      • ‘Against this bleak background, the good news is that there is a clear distinction between anti-Americanism and criticism of US policies.’
      • ‘Payment delays were causing families considerable hardship at a time when farming was already in crisis and future prospects were bleak, he said.’
      • ‘Last week Noonan suggested the need for more family farms - at a time when farmers are leaving the land in droves and a future on the land rarely seems more bleak.’
      • ‘But the desperately bleak situation in the Middle East cannot be allowed to become a zero sum game.’
      • ‘I think that the Air Canada situation is pretty bleak.’
      • ‘Gaye Alexander, who co-owns Horbury Junction Post Office, which is closing later this month, claimed the situation was bleak.’
      • ‘In Kabul, while initial food distributions have been conducted among its 1.1 million inhabitants, the long-term situation is bleak.’
      • ‘Homeowners in flood-prone areas faced a bleak start to the new year.’
      unpromising, unfavourable, unpropitious, inauspicious, adverse, disadvantageous, uninviting, discouraging, disheartening, depressing, cheerless, joyless, gloomy, sombre, dreary, dismal, wretched, miserable, black, dark, grim, drab, portentous, foreboding, hopeless, ominous
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 (of a person's expression) cold and forbidding.
      ‘his mouth was set and his eyes were bleak’
      • ‘I smiled encouragingly when she turned a bleak expression on me.’
      • ‘His eyes were hooded matching the bleak, dark expression on his face.’
      • ‘She looked so hopeless and bleak, her expression scared me.’
      • ‘Captain Val was the first to greet her, his expression bleak.’
      • ‘She was certain that he was angry - a single glance at his bleak expression could have informed an idiot thus.’
      • ‘One minute, he was staring off into outer space with a dreamy smile on his face and a split second afterward, he was tensed up with a bleak, grim expression.’
      • ‘Siannodelli entered, wrapped in a cloak and carrying a bag, her expression so bleak and reminiscent of her mother that the bard panicked.’
      • ‘Although his expression was bleak, he smiled at that.’
      • ‘But he was stuck, following her eyes as the smile left her face and she looked into the distance with a bleak expression.’
      • ‘Katherine met her on the porch, her expression bleak.’

Origin

Old English blāc ‘shining, white’, or in later use from synonymous Old Norse bleikr; ultimately of Germanic origin and related to bleach.

Pronunciation

bleak

/bliːk/

Main definitions of bleak in English

: bleak1bleak2

bleak2

noun

  • A small silvery shoaling fish of the carp family, found in Eurasian rivers.

    • ‘The flies for pike were naturally bigger than the bleaks, so they left me alone and I got some pike.’
    • ‘The browned perch fillets may be added with rice, the lake whitefishes and the small but delicious bleaks.’
    • ‘The chef has tried to offer a wide variety of freshwater fish dishes, keeping in touch, however, with traditional recipes such as rice with perch, fried bleaks, and whitefish.’
    • ‘The restaurant offers fish-starters which are a house speciality, marinated bleaks, trout on a bed of rocket, and fillets of smoked eel.’
    • ‘Cleaned bleaks are salted and weighed down for 48 hours.’

Origin

Late 15th century: from Old Norse bleikja.

Pronunciation

bleak

/bliːk/