Definition of miserable in US English:



  • 1(of a person) wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.

    ‘their happiness made Anne feel even more miserable’
    • ‘He always talks about her to me, and I feel so uncomfortable and miserable.’
    • ‘Anne is miserable, alternating between laughing and despairing.’
    • ‘I speak to him briefly on the phone; he has chickenpox and sounds miserable.’
    • ‘But I ended up feeling pretty miserable most of the weekend, and guess what?’
    • ‘It's no different when someone is miserable and depressed.’
    • ‘People are miserable when the stock is down 20 percent.’
    • ‘He was sulking, sitting in front of his half-finished experiments, looking utterly miserable.’
    • ‘So he'd helped his miserable friend console his woe begotten soul with some more hard liquor until he'd passed out.’
    • ‘Basically, I'm miserable and I can't think and I can't get any work done.’
    • ‘She muttered inaudibly, miserable for the rest of the day as she brooded on that dark piece of information.’
    • ‘I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour but heaven knows I'm miserable now!’
    • ‘Now she could see that the results probably weren't too favorable for him, for he looked utterly miserable.’
    • ‘It just - it makes the victims or their families miserable and uncomfortable, and it makes a celebrity out of the criminal.’
    • ‘I want to be outside, but not with him there - and the thought of going to lunch by myself is so depressing that I'm miserable all over again.’
    • ‘I won my game shortly after getting back that service, and their coach looked pretty miserable at the end.’
    • ‘Bryan groaned loudly and buried his head in his pillow, sounding absolutely miserable.’
    • ‘I'm curious, therefore, why I don't feel utterly miserable.’
    • ‘I lost, and was miserable for the rest of the day.’
    • ‘Both myself and Lesley have been absolutely miserable all week worrying about him.’
    • ‘They go in with their boyfriends and they're miserable, uncomfortable and they just want to go.’
    unhappy, sad, sorrowful, dejected, depressed, downcast, downhearted, down, despondent, despairing, disconsolate, out of sorts, desolate, bowed down, wretched, glum, gloomy, dismal, blue, melancholy, melancholic, low-spirited, mournful, woeful, woebegone, doleful, forlorn, crestfallen, broken-hearted, heartbroken, inconsolable, luckless, grief-stricken
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    1. 1.1 (of a situation or environment) causing someone to feel wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.
      ‘horribly wet and miserable conditions’
      • ‘She described the miserable conditions they now face without food or other relief supplies.’
      • ‘The weather through that winter was miserable, and conditions in the camps on both sides deteriorated.’
      • ‘Others complained about the miserable conditions at the shelters.’
      • ‘Illegal workers have to accept terribly low wages, miserable working conditions, and essentially no benefits.’
      • ‘She added that the family is living in miserable conditions and there very few people who are willing to help during the time of distress and pain.’
      • ‘The waterproof model allows women to hunt in the most miserable conditions, yet stay warm and dry.’
      • ‘And although the weather was dreadful and miserable, our humour never wavered.’
      • ‘Some 130 million people have been removed from abject poverty but their living condition remains miserable.’
      • ‘Their social and economic conditions were made miserable.’
      • ‘Overindulgence in alcohol leads to dehydration and results in those miserable sensations commonly called a hangover.’
      • ‘Played in the most miserable wet conditions in keeping with the time of year, this was an amazing game.’
      • ‘In a new twist on a miserable but familiar condition, part of the reason for this year's high pollen counts, some experts say, could be the foot and mouth crisis.’
      • ‘Many live in precarious shacks and suffer under miserable conditions.’
      • ‘Pathetic drizzle was annoyingly splattering on her head, and her face was irritated by the moist miserable air.’
      • ‘After almost two years of occupation, and miserable living conditions, we want our country back.’
      • ‘In general it was a day for the hardiest of souls as combination of biting cold and persistent flurries of rain made conditions thoroughly miserable for spectators and players alive.’
      • ‘Others nearly as large found their way to the weigh station as well, despite absolutely miserable conditions.’
      • ‘Even when games and coaching were possible, they often took place in utterly miserable conditions for both players and spectators.’
      • ‘There, under wet and miserable field conditions, members of the unit labored to create a base of operations for the Allies' final push into Germany.’
      dreary, dismal, dark, gloomy, drab, sombre, wretched, depressing, grim, cheerless, godforsaken, bleak, desolate, joyless, uninviting, discouraging, disheartening, unpromising, hopeless, dire, pathetic, tragic, distressing, grievous
      unpleasant, disagreeable, displeasing, depressing, uncomfortable
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    2. 1.2 (of a person) habitually morose.
      ‘a miserable man in his late sixties’
      • ‘Jack's right hand man is a miserable bad tempered individual with several years of service behind him.’
      • ‘Is it possible that such an achievement would reduce some of the gathering anger that the poor and miserable of the earth may be inclined to direct at the rich and indifferent?’
      • ‘It is quite obvious from simply watching them that they are intensely miserable and unhappy people.’
      • ‘He was miserable and moody, frustrated and just plain rude, insulting anyone who gave him the slightest reason.’
      • ‘I believe that since he's imprisoned and he suffered and he's very miserable, he's a man - he has lots of anger.’
      • ‘Paunchy, miserable, humourless, he'd be dour if he weren't too depressed to summon up the energy.’
      • ‘And though you may be a success, you're secretly miserable.’
      • ‘An unhappy and frustrated mother is going to lead to a miserable child.’
      • ‘The bar staff and in particular, the door staff were the most miserable, surly and unhospitable people around.’
      • ‘Yet sceptics argued that a large modern republic was not possible in Europe, with its overpowerful feudal nobilities and its hordes of miserable poor.’
      • ‘Think of all the miserable children of millionaires with more money than they know what to do with, washing around the gossip columns, famous for their names and nothing else.’
      • ‘I know, and you know, that the audience for miserable people in Bradford is small, even in Bradford, but that is not a reason for not making it; or, indeed, not reviewing it.’
      grumpy, sullen, sulky, gloomy, bad-tempered, ill-tempered, in a bad mood, dour, surly, sour, glum, moody, unsmiling, humourless, uncommunicative, taciturn, unresponsive, unsociable, scowling, glowering, ill-humoured, sombre, sober, saturnine, pessimistic, lugubrious, dismal, irritable, churlish, cantankerous, crotchety, cross, crabbed, crabby, grouchy, testy, snappish, peevish, crusty, waspish
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    3. 1.3attributive Contemptible (used as a term of abuse or for emphasis)
      ‘you miserable old creep!’
      • ‘Can someone tell me the point of employing this simpering, miserable pansy merely so that he can complain week-in, week-out about how much he hates the place?’
      • ‘Aaron tried to scowl at the miserable creature, but it didn't faze him one bit.’
      • ‘I think they'd say I was a miserable moany old git at the best of times.’
      • ‘I happen to know that miserable wretch intimately, as I stare at him each morning in the mirror.’
      • ‘‘If I say no to people then I am going to look like the miserable bloke,’ he said.’
      • ‘How dare this miserable excuse for a Federal Government chastise any other country over pulling their troops out of Iraq.’
      • ‘"Stand up you miserable bastard," the rocker roared at one person.’
      • ‘If not, they are miserable wretches who are capitalising on people's misery.’
      • ‘Why not just close both levels and sell sleeping bags you miserable cold-hearted bastards?’
      • ‘Like most bores, he is a very nice chap, so no-one says ‘Oh, for God's sake shut up, you miserable wretch!’’
      • ‘I should have your throat cut for cowardice you miserable wretch!’
      • ‘No, because the miserable coward wouldn't even give his name!’
      • ‘Luckily for the compassionate singer, the "miserable bastard" wasn't disabled.’
      wretched, contemptible, despicable, confounded
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  • 2Pitiably small or inadequate.

    ‘all they pay me is a miserable $10,000 a year’
    • ‘Poor and miserable facilities posed enormous hardship to competing athletes.’
    • ‘March's trade deficit came in at a miserable but slightly less-than-expected $31.6 billion.’
    • ‘Even Alan Greenspan sees unequal incomes as ‘a major threat to security’, a pretty miserable reason for addressing the problem.’
    • ‘Twenty years ago, school districts delivered miserable services to poor and minority families with no sanction.’
    • ‘That's the only way we can stop employers exploiting us with miserable wages and inhuman conditions.’
    • ‘Social indifference or ignorance under the present conditions makes a particularly miserable program for artistic work.’
    • ‘Book royalties being the miserable and pathetic little things that they are, the idea is not to live off them.’
    • ‘Their one-day cricket last term was nothing short of miserable.’
    inadequate, meagre, scanty, scant, paltry, limited, restricted, insufficient, deficient, negligible, insubstantial, skimpy, short, little, lean, small, slight, slender, poor, lamentable, pitiful, puny, niggardly, beggarly
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Late Middle English: from French misérable, from Latin miserabilis ‘pitiable’, from miserari ‘to pity’, from miser ‘wretched’.