Definition of misery in English:



mass noun
  • 1A 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’
    • ‘The physical misery it causes has been compared to advanced cardiac disease or cancer.’
    • ‘There has been too much misery and suffering inflicted on the peoples of the region.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is the only way, he said, to reduce the pain and misery caused by farm accidents.’
    • ‘They are the anti-heroic instigators of death and destruction, misery and suffering.’
    • ‘In doing this you would save them and yourself from misery and heartaches.’
    • ‘Beth let out a cry of misery and her exhausted mind finally let her slip into unconsciousness.’
    • ‘If next week's action goes ahead, motorists will face long queues, frustration and misery.’
    • ‘They, too, had experienced fear, suffered misery, and had in manifold ways been victims of the war.’
    • ‘This tale of physical misery, compelling as it is, is not the main focus of Young's play.’
    • ‘We must undergo a serious soul searching because the continent cannot continue to be a place of poverty 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.’
    • ‘Human suffering, pain, misery, separation and bereavement are inevitable when wars are fought.’
    • ‘Untold human misery and suffering could be stemmed if Parkinson's disease became treatable.’
    • ‘She caused untold hardship and misery to millions of families who suffered needless unemployment.’
    • ‘There were tears and dejection and frustration and misery and anger for North Ribblesdale last Saturday.’
    • ‘The people who are refugees in their own land will keep living in distress, fear and misery.’
    • ‘That disaster has repeatedly brought home the face of suffering and misery over the last few months.’
    • ‘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
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    1. 1.1usually miseriescount noun A cause or source of great distress or discomfort.
      ‘the miseries of war’
      • ‘Bear all miseries and evil without any murmur of hurt, without any thought of unhappiness, without any resistance, remedy or retaliation.’
      • ‘His murals aimed to convert the illiterate and heterogeneous masses to a realization of the miseries and futilities of war.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He said the people of Gujarat had undergone the same sufferings and miseries that one experiences during war.’
      • ‘In his last years his work became ever more violent in expression, moved by a passionate concern for the suffering and miseries of mankind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ‘patriarchal family’ was held to be the main source of children's miseries.’
      • ‘Once our divine origin was fixed, human miseries were explained as the punishment for some original sin committed by our first ancestors.’
      • ‘Human lives suffer from miseries and deprivations of various kinds, some more amenable to alleviation than others.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The litany of daily miseries suffered by the powerless public of the subcontinent on both sides of the border should make us ask, why?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As long as we live in this world, we are bound to suffer the miseries and afflictions that beset the human being.’
      • ‘In Iraq every day even the best of intentions are cruelly put to test by the miseries and sorrows of war.’
      affliction, misfortune, difficulty, problem, adversity, ordeal, trouble, hardship, deprivation
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    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.’
      killjoy, dog in the manger, damper, dampener, spoilsport, pessimist, prophet of doom, complainer, moaner, mope
      View synonyms


  • make someone's life a misery (or make life a misery for someone)

    • Cause someone severe distress by continued unpleasantness or harassment.

      ‘the blackmail that was making his father's life a misery’
      • ‘Michael, seven, who has had to deal with countless operations, also had the strength to beat the thugs who make his life a misery.’
      • ‘We have a duty to protect the law abiding majority against those who are making their life a misery.’
      • ‘The rap singer claimed he needed the pistol to protect himself from jealous thugs who had made his life a misery.’
      • ‘The council decision is making my life a misery.’
      • ‘‘Then I will make your life a misery,’ the merchant threatened.’
      • ‘For a start, the new measure will not apply to existing tenants - so if you already live next door to someone who is making your life a misery, this won't help at all.’
      • ‘But what happens when you encounter the client from hell who complains endlessly about everything your company does and has made it his mission to make your life a misery?’
      • ‘It is a great pity that the sad, sick morons who have made our life a misery for endless weeks now had not been born two or three generations earlier.’
      • ‘She felt guilty about Stella making your life a misery.’
      • ‘Wasn't her plan to stay with him purely so she could make his life a misery?’
  • put someone/something out of their misery

    • 1End the suffering of a person or animal in pain by killing them.

      ‘I'll send him to our ‘hospice’ tent and then I'll put him out of his misery’
      • ‘He says a doctor approached him, saying a hospital administrator wanted to know what he thought about putting patients out of their misery.’
      • ‘Sometimes it was expressed informally, as when spectators at public demonstrations quietly put the animal subjects out of their misery.’
      • ‘Lastly think about this, we put animals down, this is looked upon as humane and is justified so why can we not put a person out of their misery?’
      • ‘Authorities are reviewing patient records, trying to evaluate claims that he administered fatal overdoses of medication to seriously ill patients to put them out of their misery.’
      • ‘I would like to feel that if I had a close friend or relative in agony with no prospect of any relief that someone would be able to put them out of their misery.’
      • ‘I just hope that if she was hunting birds she put them out of their misery, unlike that poor thing this morning.’
      • ‘When they are asked why they did it they say, ‘We were being kind to them, they were wounded and we were putting them out of their misery.’’
      1. 1.1informal Release someone from suspense or anxiety by telling them something they are anxious to know.
        ‘listeners were put out of their misery just before midday when broadcasters admitted to the April Fool’
        • ‘Maybe I should just put them out of their misery and just tell them the truth?’


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