Definition of doleful in US English:



  • 1Expressing sorrow; mournful.

    ‘a doleful look’
    • ‘They're no less doleful when they see me going about alone.’
    • ‘The whole family filed into my surgery to thank me, bobbing and bowing, looking so doleful, then smiling.’
    • ‘Nicholas watched her with his doleful blue eyes as she walked away.’
    • ‘Along the way they find the time to take in a Blind Willie Johnson blues number, a doleful love song in French and an old-time Appalachian ditty.’
    • ‘Fairground organ ditties blaring from food stalls soon gave way to the doleful strains of a whiny brass band playing funeral music.’
    • ‘Dream about snowflakes as the doleful synthesizers moan like winter winds.’
    • ‘Knowing nothing about my departure, the faithful animal still waited for me as usual, its eyes getting more doleful each day.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We shall all miss her but it won't be a sad, doleful funeral.’’
    • ‘The final selection, ‘Night Prayers,’ is from Georgia, and has a doleful melody typical of traditional Russian music.’
    • ‘In one, a lifelike depiction of a young man with doleful, melancholy eyes lies within the still, tightly bound wrappings of the mummy.’
    • ‘There were just a few doleful looking people sitting in chairs who were outnumbered by the armed security guards protecting the X-Ray machine and metal detector while striving to provide quality service to their customers.’
    • ‘The old dilapidated building where the two women meet each other is made even more gloomy and doleful by an unexpected downpour.’
    • ‘Apart from the house, only the doleful eyes of the writer are visible to the public in the caricature.’
    • ‘Instead, he wrote, played all the instruments, multi-tracked the doleful harmonies and produced this deceptively drifting solo project.’
    • ‘My parents' doleful reaction always struck me as odd.’
    • ‘His voice, as doleful as his bloodhound eyes, is his trump card.’
    • ‘He looked at us searchingly, a doleful expression demanding our sympathy.’
    • ‘However, even he sounds a little doleful when the subject is brought up.’
    • ‘It reminded me suddenly of the reason why people say that the bell in Nanjing tends to be more doleful than those in other cities.’
    • ‘His words filled hearts, turned eyes moist, and made many doleful as he saluted those who were not with us any longer as they laid down their lives for the country.’
    mournful, woeful, sorrowful, sad, unhappy, depressed, dismal, gloomy, morose, melancholy, miserable, forlorn, wretched, woebegone, despondent, dejected, disconsolate, downcast, crestfallen, downhearted, heartbroken, heavy-hearted, despairing, desolate, grief-stricken
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    1. 1.1 Causing grief or misfortune.
      ‘doleful consequences’
      • ‘There can be no joy in war: it is always repulsive in actual detail, but if we are not left with the facts, then the world is deprived even of doleful experience of the battlefield.’
      • ‘Bureaucracy plays its usual doleful part in the process, of course.’