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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Our UN vehicle travelled along a barren and bleak landscape to reach the town from Sofia.’
    • ‘He described the desert as so bleak and empty that travelers stacked up bones as landmarks.’
    • ‘They were always the same; he would be stood at the top of the same cliff, watching the same bleak, dead land.’
    • ‘It was partly Wolfe's portrait of the Bronx - a bleak, unprepossessing gang land - that has kept me away all this time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The retail park is rather bleak and bare still, and there's a deal of construction going on.’
    • ‘It was a vast, bleak, exposed expanse of tarmac with nothing in it but broken glass.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And yet, amid this bleak landscape, there is talk of a new St. Bernard, rising from the mud.’
    • ‘The Norwegian lieutenant was a national hero, known to everyone, even in this bleak area.’
    • ‘Rhea looked up miserably at the bleak mountains surrounding them.’
    • ‘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 yard and the vast prairie lands were bleak and desolate.’
    • ‘Here one encounters the bleak landscape for the first time.’
    • ‘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 also give him room to create bleak landscapes that mirror the morality of the tales.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    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 around the bleak little room in despair’
      • ‘The psychologist's room was bare and bleak with no windows.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As there are hardly any congregants in the bleak church, and these include only some of the central characters, this seems a strange device.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It seemed so hard to believe that anyone so accustomed to such accommodations could possibly live in the dark bleak castle of Amedon.’
      • ‘Chillingham Castle - a wonderfully bleak castle in the north east - was used for Fotheringay, scene of Mary Queen of Scots' incarceration.’
      • ‘It is a bleak, formally furnished room, with large gold-framed photographs of kings and queens on the walls.’
      • ‘It is a bleak suite of secure rooms, with bullet-proof doors and walls up to six feet thick.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He now lives alone in a one-bedroom flat on a bleak housing estate in Stranraer, Wigtownshire.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 (of the weather) cold and miserable.
      ‘a bleak midwinter's day’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It left the punters with a warm glow to accompany them as they made their way in the evening's bleak weather.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Without warning rain began to come down in sheets, blanketing the world in a bleak fog.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The bleak and even ominous weather conditions only added to the feeling of desolation that consumed the languishing souls in the castle.’
      • ‘The cold and bleak winter weather all add up to us feeling grumpy and miserable.’
      • ‘February is bleak and cold, and there's nothing wrong with a little color and a park full of people.’
      • ‘January was dimming into the equally cold, bleak abyss of New England weather that was February.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Although the weather on Friday was bleak, Bob assured me that Saturday would be great.’
      • ‘I arrived shortly before 10 a.m. in a bleak downpour, trusting that someone had recorded my appointment.’
      • ‘Our host, Mr Barelli, greeted us in out of the bleak rain as he greets everyone at his restaurant.’
      • ‘Out of Germany for 3 years, they returned to find the bleak, miserable European weather.’
      • ‘We paired it up with a floral top because in the bleak mid-winter there is nothing quite so depressing as the flowerless landscape.’
      • ‘So intense was the pain in this instance that I passed out on that cold, bleak Ann Arbor afternoon.’
      • ‘Our weather was bleak, and in the US the climate was no better, the gloom reflecting the mood of the nation.’
      • ‘There was little vegetation and a bleak wind blew down from the snows of the high passes.’
      • ‘She gasped in excitement as she saw bolts of lightning flitter across the sky, leaping from one bleak rain cloud to another.’
      cold, keen, raw, harsh, wintry
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a situation or future prospect) not hopeful or encouraging; unlikely to have a favorable outcome.
      ‘he paints a bleak picture of a company that has lost its way’
      • ‘With the real estate market booming and vacancy rates dropping, the situation for people looking for affordable housing is bleak.’
      • ‘Homeowners in flood-prone areas faced a bleak start to the new year.’
      • ‘Against this bleak background, the good news is that there is a clear distinction between anti-Americanism and criticism of US policies.’
      • ‘If people on middle incomes continue to shun inner cities, those areas will face a bleak future.’
      • ‘People in such bleak circumstances often acted upon desperation.’
      • ‘Payment delays were causing families considerable hardship at a time when farming was already in crisis and future prospects were bleak, he said.’
      • ‘From a bleak situation there's still a chance of a complete cure.’
      • ‘Gaye Alexander, who co-owns Horbury Junction Post Office, which is closing later this month, claimed the situation was bleak.’
      • ‘Conditions are so bleak in so many areas we seem on the verge of a social emergency.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alex Robson's bleak view of the sugar industry is challenged by the Queensland Canegrowers Organisation.’
      • ‘In Kabul, while initial food distributions have been conducted among its 1.1 million inhabitants, the long-term situation is bleak.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Otherwise the future of sport in the area will be very bleak indeed and may fine sporting amenities will remain underused.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's New York in the mid-'80s and the situation is bleak.’
      • ‘I think that the Air Canada situation is pretty bleak.’
      • ‘But the desperately bleak situation in the Middle East cannot be allowed to become a zero sum game.’
      • ‘Newspaper reports about the topic also opened her eyes to the bleak situation of the elderly.’
      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 or a person's expression) cold and forbidding.
      ‘his bleak, near vacant eyes grew remote’
      • ‘I smiled encouragingly when she turned a bleak expression on me.’
      • ‘She looked so hopeless and bleak, her expression scared me.’
      • ‘Katherine met her on the porch, her expression bleak.’
      • ‘Although his expression was bleak, he smiled at that.’
      • ‘Captain Val was the first to greet her, his expression bleak.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His eyes were hooded matching the bleak, dark expression on his face.’
      • ‘But he was stuck, following her eyes as the smile left her face and she looked into the distance with a bleak expression.’
      • ‘She was certain that he was angry - a single glance at his bleak expression could have informed an idiot thus.’

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

/blēk/

Main definitions of bleak in English

: bleak1bleak2

bleak2

noun

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The flies for pike were naturally bigger than the bleaks, so they left me alone and I got some pike.’
    • ‘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 browned perch fillets may be added with rice, the lake whitefishes and the small but delicious bleaks.’

Origin

Late 15th century: from Old Norse bleikja.

Pronunciation:

bleak

/blēk/