Definition of dismal in US English:



  • 1Depressing; dreary.

    ‘the dismal weather made the late afternoon seem like evening’
    • ‘The dismal picture that emerges is indeed depressing, and sometimes infuriating.’
    • ‘One idea is pushing election day back into October, to spare voters going to the polls in dismal weather.’
    • ‘Muddy lanes surround dismal tin shacks and there is an aura of despondency and despair, which even the myriads of children do little to dispel.’
    • ‘It's a grey day but this place feels as if it would be dismal regardless of the weather.’
    • ‘A polar jet stream appears to be the cause of the dismal weather, say the experts.’
    • ‘And mine is the world of the rented room, where damp creeps in in the dismal gloom and music is the only thing I own.’
    • ‘It's a chance for cultural liberation, to escape the dismal oppression of autocratic bullies.’
    • ‘She'd been walking so long she barely noticed the cold and damp, the sticking mud and the dismal weather.’
    • ‘No one's mood was helped by the dismal weather outdoors, the sky was grey and the wind was blasting.’
    • ‘The weather's dismal and the light grey and the landscape reminds you of everything that's hellish about the country.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the onslaught of dismal economic news seems to be weighing heavily on the president and his party.’
    • ‘Little wavelets came up around his feet, oily and silent in this dismal weather.’
    • ‘The dismal weather for much of the week was no help and there were times when Tralee Racecourse was a drab place to be.’
    • ‘In achieving this aim, the frequently dismal weather helps immeasurably.’
    • ‘He finally appeared from the depths of the dismal room dressed in his usual black turtleneck and blue jeans.’
    • ‘Last year I grew a dark red variety which was really striking, thriving on neglect despite the dismal weather.’
    • ‘As glorious Tramore yet again defied the dismal weather forecasts the fans flocked to the seaside venue.’
    • ‘That afternoon the weather was overcast and somewhat dismal, with light snow falling almost continually.’
    • ‘Ali led me up a narrow path way lined with trees and brush, to a small cabin that looked desolated and dismal.’
    • ‘They looked like a ray of light in that dismal room.’
    dingy, dim, dark, gloomy, sombre, dreary, drab, dull, desolate, bleak, cheerless, comfortless, depressing, grim, funereal, inhospitable, uninviting, unwelcoming
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    1. 1.1 (of a person or a mood) gloomy.
      ‘his dismal mood was not dispelled by finding the house empty’
      • ‘On a fatal journey back to England a storm rocked his ship and as the crew and dismal captain bailed water from the ship, an amazing thing happened for John.’
      • ‘I laughed despite my dismal mood and felt better than I had all night.’
      • ‘After the past 10 days in the spotlight, internal morale for the 200 STB staff is dismal.’
      • ‘It's at this point that we come to the dismal apprehension of why attention waned in the first place.’
      • ‘It sent a chilling message of cold and dismal feelings through my body; I didn't want to hold on any more, so I gently removed my fingers from the window.’
      • ‘They were indeed friendly; however, their disposition was dark and dismal.’
      • ‘However, one staff member told the Western People that although the mood is dismal at the plant, the staff realise that it is not just them who will lose out.’
      • ‘Remember the light that shone from me long ago if I am too dismal now, but remember me.’
      • ‘If these really are the views of those around him, one fears he must run with a rather dismal crowd.’
      • ‘I had a hard time being in a dismal mood when Riley was with me.’
      • ‘Her reassuring smile did little to reassure her dismal friends.’
      • ‘Gail marched after the man enthusiastically, followed by a rather nervous Emy, a dismal Mary, and a grinning Nora.’
      • ‘For some reason, any childhood memory in this city has always been bleak and dismal at best.’
      • ‘In the morning as the dismal crowds drained from their former residences into the Mission Square the old man died.’
      • ‘Dull, dismal and discarded, he wallows in misery and loathing.’
      • ‘I toyed again with my gin, not quite certain why my mood was such hopeless, dismal despair.’
      gloomy, glum, mournful, melancholy, morose, doleful, woeful, woebegone, forlorn, abject, dejected, depressed, dispirited, downcast, crestfallen, despondent, disconsolate, miserable, sad, unhappy, sorrowful, sorrowing, desolate, wretched, lugubrious
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    2. 1.2informal Pitifully or disgracefully bad.
      ‘he shuddered as he watched his team's dismal performance’
      • ‘By that measure, too, Australia's recent performance looks dismal.’
      • ‘We were dismal in the Hong Kong history round, but did satisfactorily in current events.’
      • ‘The mishap with the bus did not help but it cannot be blamed totally for this dismal performance.’
      • ‘I can tell you, I was in a very poor mood for quite a while due to the dismal turnout.’
      • ‘First, I managed to get up at 4am, even after a really dismal night's sleep.’
      • ‘Our effort to tame nature so that the temperature is always comfortable has been a dismal failure.’
      • ‘These are dismal figures, forcing the people of Taiwan to face the cruel reality of an economic winter.’
      • ‘America and Japan also had fairly strong growth, although Western Europe had a more dismal performance.’
      • ‘The play is a history of his romantic failures, with amorous adventures ranging from the comic to the pitiful but always dismal failures.’
      • ‘Failing to do so imperils his chances by giving us nothing to be excited about, much less to work for and a likely dismal voter turnout.’
      • ‘There is no magic formula to reduce these dismal figures.’
      • ‘The club partly blamed crashing out of Europe to Feyenoord, which went on to win the UEFA Cup, for the dismal figures.’
      • ‘We see this as nothing but the most dismal of choices and are saddened to see the determined few who want to create the ruination of many.’
      • ‘The coaches must get the offense in a productive mode after last season's dismal performance.’
      • ‘The league's nonconference winning percentage was worse than last season's dismal figure.’
      • ‘These dismal figures don't include the entitlement reforms proposed by the President.’
      • ‘This self-centredness bothered some of his followers, who quit after the party's dismal electoral performance.’
      • ‘It was a dismal performance and another man might have been broken by it.’
      • ‘This year's campaign will follow the dismal showing of 2004 where the event didn't even get off the ground because of a lack of interest.’
      • ‘But this is the limit of the good news to be dredged from a dismal couple of days in Brussels.’
      bad, poor, dreadful, awful, terrible, pitiful, disgraceful, lamentable, deplorable
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Late Middle English: from earlier dismal (noun), denoting the two days in each month which in medieval times were believed to be unlucky, from Anglo-Norman French dis mal, from medieval Latin dies mali ‘evil days’.