Definition of misery in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A state or feeling of great physical or mental distress or discomfort.

    ‘a man who had brought her nothing but misery’
    ‘the misery of the miner's existence’
    • ‘They are the anti-heroic instigators of death and destruction, misery and suffering.’
    • ‘The people who are refugees in their own land will keep living in distress, fear and misery.’
    • ‘This tale of physical misery, compelling as it is, is not the main focus of Young's play.’
    • ‘This one revolves around a mental case wallowing in misery because her sister stole her boyfriend.’
    • ‘The rage and the frustration and misery all poured out as the tears trickled down my face.’
    • ‘The physical misery it causes has been compared to advanced cardiac disease or cancer.’
    • ‘She caused untold hardship and misery to millions of families who suffered needless unemployment.’
    • ‘This is the only way, he said, to reduce the pain and misery caused by farm accidents.’
    • ‘Human suffering, pain, misery, separation and bereavement are inevitable when wars are fought.’
    • ‘Beth let out a cry of misery and her exhausted mind finally let her slip into unconsciousness.’
    • ‘In doing this you would save them and yourself from misery and heartaches.’
    • ‘There were tears and dejection and frustration and misery and anger for North Ribblesdale last Saturday.’
    • ‘That disaster has repeatedly brought home the face of suffering and misery over the last few months.’
    • ‘They, too, had experienced fear, suffered misery, and had in manifold ways been victims of the war.’
    • ‘We must undergo a serious soul searching because the continent cannot continue to be a place of poverty and misery.’
    • ‘Untold human misery and suffering could be stemmed if Parkinson's disease became treatable.’
    • ‘There has been too much misery and suffering inflicted on the peoples of the region.’
    • ‘If next week's action goes ahead, motorists will face long queues, frustration and misery.’
    • ‘However, he would not miss an opportunity to stare poverty and human misery in its face in any of the countries he visited.’
    • ‘It is an image of pure misery and despair, brimming with symbolism and the essential mystery of all religion.’
    unhappiness, distress, wretchedness, hardship, suffering, affliction, anguish, anxiety, angst, torment, torture, hell, agony, pain, discomfort, deprivation, poverty, grief, heartache, heartbreak, heartbrokenness, despair, despondency, dejection, depression, desolation, gloom, gloominess, low spirits, moroseness, doldrums, melancholy, melancholia, woe, sadness, sorrow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]A cause or source of great distress or discomfort.
      ‘the miseries of war’
      • ‘What is more, it is as simple as the solution which, after the Second World War, we applied to correct the economic and other miseries that had plagued us during the Great Depression of the 1930s.’
      • ‘Bear all miseries and evil without any murmur of hurt, without any thought of unhappiness, without any resistance, remedy or retaliation.’
      • ‘As long as we live in this world, we are bound to suffer the miseries and afflictions that beset the human being.’
      • ‘Most Americans now alive have gone their whole lives believing they had something approaching a free pass to escape the miseries of war, terror, and want.’
      • ‘Human lives suffer from miseries and deprivations of various kinds, some more amenable to alleviation than others.’
      • ‘His murals aimed to convert the illiterate and heterogeneous masses to a realization of the miseries and futilities of war.’
      • ‘The litany of daily miseries suffered by the powerless public of the subcontinent on both sides of the border should make us ask, why?’
      • ‘In his last years his work became ever more violent in expression, moved by a passionate concern for the suffering and miseries of mankind.’
      • ‘Whether mourning the miseries of war, praying for divine help or preparing herself for death, it seemed as if her life as a writer was at its end.’
      • ‘To know the truth of that, you need only walk out onto any street in any city in this country; you know that within minutes - seconds - you will see some of the one-third or more of our nation that suffers the miseries of being poor.’
      • ‘Indeed the sort of commitment that permits soldiers to endure the suffering and miseries of Valley Forge or Gettysburg has to be ideologically prepared and tempered.’
      • ‘Meaning thereby that in abstract terms whenever there is an excess of miseries, ailments and problems, the victims thereof have nothing but to develop a sense of resignation, tolerance and contentment.’
      • ‘Once our divine origin was fixed, human miseries were explained as the punishment for some original sin committed by our first ancestors.’
      • ‘In Iraq every day even the best of intentions are cruelly put to test by the miseries and sorrows of war.’
      • ‘Not only it has added to the miseries of those who depended for livelihood mainly on this source, banks have also been deprived of the huge inflow of funds which the government could have used for development works.’
      • ‘Above all, we sought to bring an end to the miseries that had plagued us in the 1930s and 1940s, and, in particular, to put an end to economic depression and war.’
      • ‘The ‘patriarchal family’ was held to be the main source of children's miseries.’
      • ‘The author skilfully depicts the military situation as the vast Soviet armies approached the German heartland, anxious to exact revenge for the miseries that Russians had suffered since the invasion of 1941.’
      • ‘He said the people of Gujarat had undergone the same sufferings and miseries that one experiences during war.’
      • ‘Unaware of what was in store, a passenger ship had left Kochi for Lakshadweep on May 3 and, after several hours of hellish miseries suffered by the passengers at the hostile sea, it came back.’
    2. 1.2British informal [count noun]A person who is constantly miserable or discontented.
      ‘have we really been such a bunch of miseries to work with?’
      • ‘They said she was a misery because she'd worked the Baby's Room for so long and so many of them died.’


Late Middle English: from Old French miserie, from Latin miseria, from miser wretched.