Definition of dismay in US English:



  • Consternation and distress, typically that caused by something unexpected.

    ‘to his dismay, she left him’
    • ‘He lifted his sword and to his dismay, his sword had disappeared from his hand at the blink of an eye.’
    • ‘Shock, silence, dismay and a plethora of emotions would overwhelm most viewers.’
    • ‘Much to my dismay, a number of users commented that they have already started such a list.’
    • ‘His shock and dismay, in stark contrast to the delight of his friends, was compelling to behold.’
    • ‘She also played Maria in the musical West Side Story, though, to her dismay, her singing had to be dubbed.’
    • ‘Religious parties realised this to their dismay when they failed at one poll after another.’
    • ‘To her surprise and partial dismay Shaun was standing on the other side of the door.’
    • ‘Jack turns around and to his dismay further out in the ocean is a woman desperately calling for help.’
    • ‘It found, much to our dismay, that many, many young Australians have no sense of their own future at all.’
    • ‘The whole world is looking with shock and dismay on what's happening in Fiji.’
    • ‘Before considering Mr Dennys' attack on the judgment I express my dismay at the futility of the litigation.’
    • ‘We do it now or face the repercussions in the future, much to our dismay and disdain.’
    • ‘To my dismay, Jack suddenly changed direction and headed for the point in the ceiling directly above my head.’
    • ‘Things got heated, and to my dismay, the racial slurs started, from both sides.’
    • ‘To their dismay, Staveley found they had their backs to the wall as Celtic grabbed two goals back.’
    • ‘Much to my dismay, two issues were sent to my home in Oregon after I had arrived in Norway.’
    • ‘To my dismay, his voice seemed to be coming from the back of his throat, rather than from the pit of his stomach.’
    • ‘Villagers reacted with shock and dismay to the news of the death.’
    • ‘To my dismay, but not utter shock, Jim was sitting at the table with his coffee and paper.’
    • ‘Ethan put his arms stiffly at his sides and stood, to my dismay, like a little soldier.’
    alarm, shock, surprise, consternation, concern, perturbation, disquiet, disquietude, discomposure, distress, upset, anxiety, trepidation, fear
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[with object]
  • Cause (someone) to feel consternation and distress.

    ‘they were dismayed by the U-turn in policy’
    • ‘This is the sort of book that sells, which I'm sure dismays some scholarly writers who have not quite gotten used to living in the real world yet.’
    • ‘I was dismayed by their lack of confidence in the world's safest form of travel but understood their misgivings.’
    • ‘It all makes for one of the things that most dismays me about public discourse, which is that no one stands up for principle over immediate gratification.’
    • ‘The Midwest, however, has largely kept the faith, which dismays observers like Thomas Frank.’
    • ‘What dismays me now is the possibility of Scottish politicians betraying their commitment to young people for political advantage.’
    • ‘I was somewhat dismayed, but they all insisted it was a compliment to appear older than you are.’
    • ‘She was dismayed to discover that when she phoned to make an appointment for a routine check-up late last year she could not do so.’
    • ‘I AM dismayed the Tories are again seeking to prevent the Eltham leisure centre from going ahead.’
    • ‘But I think the thing that really dismays me, beyond even the faulty reasoning or naive grasp of political realities, is how dull it all is.’
    • ‘As a rugby enthusiast and player I am dismayed at the widespread disinterest in Scotland for such a great team sport.’
    • ‘The other key lesson, which dismays the report authors, is how dependent Scots of all classes are on expecting others to sort out their problems.’
    • ‘I was dismayed to see that the editors have allowed him to enter the realm of libelist.’
    • ‘It dismays me to see the energy that so many people waste in sticking their middle finger up - because it feels good - instead of actually trying to work with the world.’
    • ‘He was also dismayed at the organisation and facilities and finally walked off the job in disgust.’
    • ‘Mr Bracegirdle, from Rochdale, says he was dismayed when staff told him flowers were no longer accepted.’
    • ‘He was dismayed to realise that his vote was, more than likely, invalid.’
    • ‘It is the combined failure of the Scottish Executive and privatised rail companies to provide co-ordinated leadership that most dismays him and other electrification enthusiasts.’
    • ‘Life as a single mother dismays her: ‘I have a fear of people letting me down.’’
    • ‘I am dismayed at the lack of balanced investigative reporting by our media on this subject.’
    • ‘I'm dismayed that the Guardian employs someone with such a poor sense of proportion.’
    appal, horrify, shock, shake, shake up
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Middle English: from Old French, based on Latin dis- (expressing negation) + the Germanic base of may.